Musings on time as the great destroyer and bringer of our greatest gifts.
It has been said that, “the gift of youth is wasted on the young.” At first glance that statement may sound funny or sarcastic, but a more in-depth look begins to reveal its wisdom.
The more we learn about our world, the more we recognize the importance of time—the fourth dimension. Unfortunately we don't understand it well enough to modify or reverse it. Time keeps marching on, steady and continuous. It “waits for no one” and, eventually, brings all lives to their end. It slowly wears us down. We have learned to somewhat combat our other natural enemies—natural disasters, climate, viral and bacterial invaders. But we are far from comprehending the complexity of the element of time, which is by far our biggest enemy. It is not sudden or unexpected, but it is persistent and, so far, unstoppable.
The closest we have come to understanding time is Einstein's Theory of Relativity, where he defines "time," not as a constant, but as variable, much like mass, distance, and other physical dimensions. According to Einstein, time and the ageing process can be slowed aboard a super fast vessel. It can even be stopped if we travel at the speed of 186,000 miles per hour. Such a hypothetical vessel could travel from Los Angeles to New York in less than one minute. However, such a vessel is nowhere to be found in the realm of our reality. Besides, even if such a vehicle existed, nothing with any mass could travel that fast. So, for now, the eroding effects of time remain an unconquerable reality we must accept. Like sand through the hourglass, our physical and mental health suffers a loss with every breath we take.
For a long time I was among those who viewed time as an enemy. I have come to see things differently now. I have explored the “full half of the glass” and focused on some of the gifts of time. Consider when we were very young. Most of us have little or no memories of our first five years of life. That, however, does not mean we did not learn anything during those years. Many studies have shown that about 80 percent of our personality is formed as a direct result of our life experiences during those years. As we age further into our teenage years, and beyond, we gain more experience. Our advancing cognitive abilities convert past experiences into useful lessons, which offer us more awareness and, eventually, more wisdom.
It seems as though we are born into a thick fog. In time, the fog slowly goes away and we begin to see things more clearly. We learn to put thing in perspective. We learn to distinguish between things that truly matter versus what does not, regardless of their initial appearance.
In time we also learn to become independent of other people’s good or bad opinions. We stop living our life to please others. A thousand people probably have a thousand unique opinions about any specific topic, some complimentary, others critical. In time we learn that all those thousands of opinions can't be right. We learn that opinions are just that—opinion—not the ultimate truth. In fact the only opinions that might be considered closest to truth are opinions that are formed decades after the fact.
In time we learn the importance of loving our self first and foremost for the right reasons. After all, we can't give away what we don't have, nor can we expect others to love us any more than we love ourselves. As we get older and hopefully wiser, we learn not to become immobilized by other people’s opinion.
Time helps us heal our wounds, both physical and emotional. Through the healing process we become stronger and better than before. Time turns novice into veteran, weak into strong and naive into wise. The fact that time turns us all to dust can't be disputed. But the wiser I become, the more I realize that I would not have it any other way.