The older I get, the more precious my time becomes. I don’t mean that in an emotional sense. It’s very tangible. Time is my currency. Time is the limited commodity with which I trade. I trade in futures. It’s true. If I give you time right now, that means I have less tomorrow. Every decision I make these days is based on whether or not that trade is worth it.
For better or worse, my brain has become like Twitter, except replace the characters with time. If you can’t say what you need to say in 140 seconds or less, then I’m not sure I have the time for it.
That’s not to say I’m not capable of engaging in-depth on a topic. I totally am. But prove to me that I’m not wasting my time listening to or reading what you’ve got to say because I’ve got shit to do. I’m not going to—I can’t—sit around all day to let you make your point. Especially if you’re a mediocre white guy in a suit who hasn’t put in the goddamn work to get to where you are.
My grandfather, when nearing the end of his life, returned a book to my father that he didn’t want to trade his precious time to read with this hand-written note: “I do not have time to walk. I have time only to gallop.”
Although I am not nearing the end of my life (at least not that I’m aware of), I too only have time to gallop. I don’t know if it’s because the pace of the world demands it or because I’ve just completely lost patience with people, but as I watch my face begin to melt from the effects of gravity, I am constantly reminded how precious, how valuable my time is.
This new constraint I’ve put on my life has led me to ask the age-old question: Why is it so hard to think about the concept of time? Sure, we can measure it. We all know 60 seconds is a minute, 60 minutes is an hour, 24 hours is one day. We can standardize it so our railroads can leave one place at one time and arrive somewhere else at a predictable hour. Theoretical physicists characterize it in relation to traveling through space. And, of course, we all know that a cesium atom vibrates 9,192,631,770 times a second.
But the most intriguing aspect of time, and this is the kicker, is something we all know. The more time we spend on earth, the shorter the years get. They begin to look more and more like seconds as we continue to exist.
Everything we know, we can reverse or, at the very least, stave off. Except time. We can even stave off entropy—the inevitable thermodynamic march toward disorder. We can stem the tide of our own bodies falling into chaos by giving them energy (food) with which to perpetually (not quite) engage in the Sisyphean task of keeping us alive despite the fact that every part of our being, from the telomeres on the ends of our DNA strands to our will to deal with incompetent assholes just wants to deteriorate.
So, time, see what’s become of me. I have come to value you like no other commodity. I’ve become very selective about who I spend my time on. I have become discerning, not impatient. I have become appreciative, not wasteful. I will savor each second and walk away from that which sucks my time into something that I do not find informative, or pleasurable, or soul-fulfilling. And I will give of you what helps someone else as freely as I give hugs to kids.
And here’s a treat for you GenX-ers out there: