The Value of Time

By Dr. Gail Sauer

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." ~ Charles Darwin ~

These days, there seems to be too little time in relation to the many things to do. How do you choose which tasks to accomplish in the time that you have? Do you make a list and check things off, or do you procrastinate and hope that the things will simply do themselves? Personally, I have adopted both strategies—one a little more effective than the other, but each valuable in its own right. 

This morning, I permitted my time to be consumed with a bike ride in the sun, involving stimulating conversation and caring companionship. With so many “important” things to do, this may be perceived by some as a waste of time. I came across the quote above and it made me think: what constitutes a “waste” of time? Can time be wasted if we are fully present to it—if we are completely in the experience? My “waste-of-time” bike ride may have been, in fact, the most valuable time in my day: a time of clarity, of inspiration, of pondering my direction in this new venture of a clinic, a time of grounding myself in the joy of simplicity and the bliss of the moment, a time of being fully present (you don’t have much choice when you are navigating loose gravel roads on an ill-equipped bicycle).

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If he were still around, I would ask Charles what he means by “waste.” I dare suggest that perhaps our lives are valued most when we are willing to fully live the moments versus moving through them half asleep. Perhaps, rather than judging an occurrence as wasteful or valuable, we can ask ourselves “can I be present enough in this event to recognize its value”? After all, some of the most valuable experiences in time—witnessing the delivery of a baby, being with someone when they take their last breaths, gazing into the eyes of the one you love, or even bike riding—can be perceived as a waste if we fail to be present. 

So this week, whatever you are doing and wherever you are, be present enough to enjoy your time.

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