How do you spend your time? Not just what you do with it, but how you relate to Time itself, as a commodity of which you get twenty four parts in each day?
Does it ever feel like you don’t have enough time, or like you need to save it, make more, or slow it down? Maybe it seems like there’s something you could do that would make Time go differently. Perhaps we’ve all got a bit of alchemist in us. Maybe we’re all a little bit mad scientist.
If you review a lot of scientific experiments from days gone by, we can often see that it was an ill-fated voyage of discovery, or that the ultimate results or findings were fairly predictable from where we sit today. Hindsight is often conveniently very accurate that way.
After the fact, it’s easy to see what was unknown at the time, and while poor experimentation seems obvious from here, it wasn’t obvious from there.
I suspect that most of us are running bad experiments when it comes to our most valuable commodity: time.
As far as I know, no one’s gotten the hang of immortality; yet, here we all are, using up our lives as if we had nothing but time.
There are many ways to conduct an experiment poorly. I suppose there are many ways to do just about anything poorly, come to think of it.
In a scientific experiment gone wrong, you can lose control of the variables, or just not bother to manage them at all, both of which mean your results will be suspect and impossible to confirm, since the experiment cannot be repeated with any great confidence in consistency.
You could also embark on a voyage of discovery, creating an experiment that confirms things we already know, in which case, it’s not much of a voyage of discovery at all. More like a quick trip round a block we could walk in our sleep.
For example, as Elon Musk said, burning fossil fuels “is the dumbest experiment in history, by far.”
Now, that’s really saying something, since there have clearly been a great many incredibly short-sighted experiments well-documented and poorly conducted by humankind over time.
What makes the burning of fossil fuels such a bad experiment is that, as Musk pointed out, we already know it’s terrible for the planet and all living things—ourselves included—on it, we know the supply is finite, we know we’ll likely need those resources as base ingredients for the yet-to-be-determined innovations that will create greener, cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy sources, and we know we don’t have a solution for when the oil runs out.
We already know all these things, but we keep on behaving as if we didn’t.
To keep testing the theory when you already know the answer is a useless experiment.
Why am I talking about fossil fuels, apart from the fact that it’s a pretty important discussion and the future of all living things depends on it and we should be talking about it a helluva lot more than we are, evidently? Well, because Time is a precious, finite and perishable commodity, too.
Time’s shelf-life is extremely short: a moment, and that’s it. The moment is gone, and can’t be brought back. You can’t hold onto time, or hoard it, or save it for a rainy day, or for your retirement. You can’t make more time. We all have the same amount of time, regardless of how we use it.
The time we spend cannot be replenished, though there is an infinite lineup of moments awaiting the passing of each one before it. So many moments, and hours and days and months and years still to come, and yet, we don’t know for certain how many of them will be ours to spend.
We’re wasting time as though we have an infinite source of moments. We don’t. Your moments, and mine, are numbered, and on the one hand, thank goodness we don’t know when we’ll cross that line. On the other hand, mind you, if we did know, perhaps we’d spend our allotment differently.
Generally, as I’ve mentioned, we act like we’ve got nothing but time, which is somewhat true, because when all is said and done, we’ll have had some time, and then we’ll leave this life, taking nothing with us but the time we used.
We wait and wait and wait for things to happen to us, or for us to happen to them (usually the former). I know for sure I’m guilty of this waiting.
I know how easy it is to feign obliviousness when it comes to the passing of time. A lot of that obliviousness isn’t even feigned: it’s genuine. It’s probably for the best that most of us aren’t painfully aware of each passing moment. We’d wind up in a mad panic, paranoid and anxious about using Time the Right Way.
I don’t know what it would look like to use time “right”; nor do I mean to suggest that you have to be efficient and productive in every waking moment. I, for one, am a big fan of lollygagging and dawdling and daydreaming and just plain old BEING. My quality of life includes lots of space for these very important pursuits.
I’m not suggesting you run yourself ragged DOING ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME OMIGOD. Nor am I suggesting we all light our hair on fire and panic about the passing of our precious time, and rain down judgment on all our decisions of how we’ve spent our time to date. That would be crazy-making, and a monumental waste of time, which, as you’ll recall, none of us has time to do!
But, if you’re hoarding time, or waiting for something in order to do/make/experience something/be someone, I have bad news: you are running out of time.
We all are, always, running out of time.
So, what if we treated time like the precious and perishable commodity it really is, and ran better experiments with our one and only lifetime?
If you’re not having the experience of life that you want to be having, then change your variables and make a better experiment. Don’t waste your most precious commodity on any experiment that doesn’t create something new, or something you truly want, simply because you think you have an infinite supply of moments. You don’t.