As we coast through our lives day after day, being extremely busy at our obligations, we are absent from our selves. The idea for most of us is to do than to be. And thus, life seems short because we all have so much to do.
But then, “Life is long,” wrote the Roman philosopher Seneca, “…if you know how to use it.”
In his brilliant treatise written 2,000 years ago, Seneca wrote…
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
So, while there’s a huge mass of time ahead of us, it passes much faster than we think. Our kids grow up fast. We get gray hairs before we’re done getting our bearings on life.
It’s so ironical that it often takes us a lifetime to learn to live in the moment…to just ‘be’ in the moment.
We seem to think that we’ll live forever. We spend time and money as though we’ll always be here. We buy stuff as though it matters and is worth the debt and stress of attachment.
We put off “living happily ever after” for another year because we assume we have another year. We don’t tell the ones we love how much we love them often enough because we assume there’s always tomorrow.
But then, Seneca writes…
No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.
Stop being so busy, I must request you here. Spend some time with yourself and your loved ones.
You won’t get this time again.