June 21, 2023 - The Stoic Gym Blog
Tag(s): Seneca || Stoicism ||

The Importance of Time

Chuck Chakrapani

The only thing that’s ours

We are given just this one thing – time. Time is what our life is made of. Whether we live to be 100 years old or die young, it doesn’t matter. Once we use up our allotted time, we have nothing. We need to leave behind everything: the things we have accumulated, our money, our loved ones, our friends, things we fought for, this world, and everything.

Nothing belongs to us, except time. 

—  Seneca, Moral Letter to Lucilius 1

Life passes us by when we waste time

What happens when we waste time? When we fritter it away? When we postpone living? When we withhold kind words thinking that there will be enough time in the future? Our life passes us by. Fast. Time is so fleeting and slippery that anyone, even a stranger, can take it away from us. Anything, even social media or TV, can steal it from us. Often, we let others steal, snatch, and waste our time.

We act foolishly when we let others waste our time

Even when we borrow the smallest, cheapest things that can easily be replaced, we acknowledge our debt. But when it comes to time, we act foolishly. No one considers herself indebted for taking up our time. And yet, time is the one loan that even grateful people cannot repay.

Because time is the stuff that our lives are made of. We need to consolidate and save time. There are many ways in which we can lose our time. But the worst of all is when we lose our time because we are not being careful.

If we look closely, we will see that most of our life slips away from us when we are not doing anything or doing something half-heartedly. When we don’t pay attention to what we are doing, we lose it all. Do we understand the value of our time and how much it is worth because life is short and we are getting closer to death every day? 

Much of our life is already over

We are mistaken in thinking that death is ahead of us. Much of our life is already over. The years we have lived so far are in death’s hands. So, we must grasp every hour of the day. We need to do what needs doing today. If we do that, we won’t be dependent on tomorrow to do today’s work.  

Much of our life is already behind us.

—  Seneca, Moral Letter to Lucilius 1

[The above is based on Letter 1 of Seneca’s Moral Letters to Lucilius.]