"Don’t Waste Time, That’s All You Have"
by John Wilder
"One of Seneca's (Dead Roman Philosopher Dude) most famous quotes is, "It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it." What surprises me is that Seneca wrote this before Twitter® existed. But even back in the time of Rome, there were ways to waste time. I’m thinking Facebook® might be that old.
Regardless, his message is timeless: every moment that we’re breathing here on Earth is precious. We may not always get a choice as to how we spend our time (Ted Kaczynski seems to be booked every day) but the true crime is to waste time. Oh, and blowing people up.
I have been as guilty as anyone of wasting time. And one of the biggest wastes of time is to become consumed by negative thoughts and emotions. In reality, most of the time (most) the things that irritate me are small. How small? So small that if I pack up my emotions, and really assess as to why I’m mad, it just looks silly. When Hillary reflects on why she’s mad, well, she calls the Suicide Hotline and places an order.
But that reflection is crucial. It’s called self-control, and although it appears to be unfashionable in certain locations (Chicago, I’m looking at you) it is the only way to be successful. If I threw a temper tantrum when (spins wheel) I drop a sock on the floor, I think there’s a simple word for that in the English language: Leftist feminist the ATF unstable.
No, when I’m upset I stop. I take a deep breath. I ask myself, “Does it matter?” Most of the time, it doesn’t. At all. Very few of the things that have irritated me matter at all over any rational timeframe. The old two rules apply: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 2. It’s all small stuff.
The second question is, can I control whatever the situation is or influence it? If the answer is no, then that’s like being mad that the Sun is coming up in the morning. Even if it’s my mistake, it’s sillier than being angry over the English coal minimum price subsidy in the 1800s or...anything that happened in 1619.
One concept I’ve come across recently is "amor fati," which is Latin for “put armor on fat people”. Oh, wait, my translator was wrong. It really means, "love your fate." I think I first heard a variation of this when I was a kid: “You get what you get, and you’ll like it, and grease up the fat people so we can put plate mail on them.”
The reality of amor fati is this, though: I am where I am, and I have a choice. I can get up every morning and be mad, or I can be happy where I am. Does that mean I’m content? No. Does that mean I’m not going to fight like hell? No. Does that mean I’m not going to try to change certain things with the fire of a thousand suns? No.
It does mean that if life sucks, I can still find meaning, still find purpose, and still try to create the change that I seek to create. It’s not complacency. Heck, Seneca himself was one of the richest dudes in all of Rome. That didn’t just happen. He didn’t just wake up one morning, and say, “Holy crap, I have an amazing amount of money. How did that happen?” Seneca embraced what he had, and tried to better himself, and change himself. He did okay.
Our choices are our choices, but even more than that, we always have the choice how we feel, even Ted Kaczynski. We may have lost everything else, but we always retain that. We should not be overcome by fear or despair. To be clear – those are just about the most negative things we can let into our lives, unless you know one of the women on 'The View.'
The only proper way to deal with tough times is to face into them. Our obstacles make us stronger. Each obstacle we face with virtue and excellence improves us. Except for bullets. Those sound like they really suck.
Regardless of all of that, the first point is still the most important: our lives aren’t too short – our lives are exactly as long as they are. Deal with it. Love it. Use your time – every minute. Every second you waste? It’s wasting your life. Now, go make something happen."
The Alan Parsons Project, "Time"