“The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha
There are two fundamental truths that no one, regardless of their belief system, can deny:
all we have is time,
and we are constantly running out of it.
How do we go through life pretending that our mortality isn't constantly looming over us?
How do we forget the reality of our existence?
All we have is time, and all we do is waste it. We waste it on mindless consumption, drama, gossiping, and hatred.
We distract ourselves from the truth, and the truth is that we are running out of time.
Why do we do this? Why are we so afraid that we fill our lives with diversions and disturbances? Don’t get me wrong - negative emotions are part of what makes us human, but when we find ourselves scrolling for hours upon hours, obsessing over the latest celebrity gossip, and wrapped up in other people’s lives (despite having plenty going on in our own), we must admit that we have lost track of our time. When we find ourselves immersed in our own misery, wrapping ourselves in it like a blanket, we must recognize that we have entered into a dangerous pattern.
Here's my take: anything that takes us away from our true purpose and doesn't matter to us is a waste of time. This excludes foundational necessities like working to provide for ourselves and our families, which is always part of our bigger purpose.
I promise you, mindless consumption, drama, gossiping, and hatred are absolutely not part of anyone's true purpose.
If you're around my age, you've spent more than 14 million minutes alive. If you pause and think about how much of that time you spent on things that didn't truly matter to you or align with who you are as a person, it might make you sick. Not because you messed up or did something wrong (which is only human), but because you'll realize that you (like almost everyone on earth) fell for the exact traps that are designed to keep us numb to our realities. You'll realize the cycle of unhappiness and mind fog that you've been repeatedly thrown into.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean we should panic. If we're lucky, we get several million precious minutes on this planet, in these bodies. The minutes that have passed are gone, but the minutes ahead of us are brimming with endless possibilities. The best part of the hard introspection that initially strikes fear, guilt, and regret is that you'll realize that there is always a way out of the cycle.
So, what does it mean to spend our time wisely? What does it mean to not waste our time? While there is no end to this list, there are a few certain answers: if you have a safe and healthy family, sit with them. If you have strong friendships, foster them. If you belong to any sort of community, serve it. And if you're lucky enough to have a roof over your head and what most would (wrongly) call "expendable" time, use it to connect with yourself. A commonly held belief is that the true meaning of life is to serve and to find a place of belonging. Everything else around you can be made into a path that leads you there.
Reflect on your time and have those hard conversations with yourself. Where is there waste happening that could be replaced with fulfillment? Where can consumption become creation? Where can isolation become inclusion? When can you put the phone down and go outside and just exist in the world that's around us, the world that we can touch, smell, and feel?
Your time is precious. It is all you have, and one hour of it is infinitely more valuable than a pound of gold.
Recognize that, internalize that, and live accordingly.