We speak of “spending” time, of “investing” time, of “wasting” time. In these terms, time sounds like money. And in some ways it is. But in some ways, it is very different.
Unlike money, you can’t save time for future use. You can’t borrow a few moments from next week and pay them back later. There is also no haves and have-nots when it comes to time—no wealth discrepancies or family fortunes passed along from previous generations. Everyone gets the same allotment of time every day.
Also unlike money, once time is gone, it’s gone. There is no earning it back. It flows continually, and there is no stopping its movement. And although you may not always like this constant flow of time, there is an aspect of this reality that can also be of solace. It just depends on how you look at it.
Arnold Bennett, in his little book How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, observes:
“The chief beauty about the constant supply of time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoilt, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your career. Which fact is very gratifying and reassuring. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose…"1
Having a new batch of time each day doesn’t erase what happened before. In itself, it doesn’t fix what’s been broken or earn back what’s been lost. But it does provide an opportunity to choose how you will proceed today. Regardless of how you used your time in the past—whether that be last year or last week or even this morning—each new moment offers you the ability to make a fresh start if you so choose.
Arnold Bennett, “Precautions before Beginning,” in How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2274/2274-h/2274-h.htm. ↩︎