The ancient Roman philosopher and statesman Lucius Seneca dedicated an entire series of letters to his friend Paulinus on the subject of the brevity of Life. The collection, in the modern era is sometimes called “On the Shortness of Life” or “On the Shortness of Time.”
In the collection, Seneca outlines the various ways in which we waste the only resource we truly command – time. But perhaps the most meaningful passage to me comes from his third letter:
Men do not suffer anyone to seize their estates, and they rush to stones and arms if there is even the slightest dispute about the limit of their lands, yet they allow others to trespass upon their life – nay, they even lead in those times who will eventually possess it. No one is found who is willing to distribute his money, yet among how many does each one of us distribute his life.
We give our time to football games that we watch alone in the privacy of our homes – to what end? We seldom spend more than a few seconds discussing the highlights with friends, but we’ve dedicated hours to the watching. We’ve done no self-improvement, we’ve done nothing to support, protect, or aid our fellow man.
We give our time (often as unpaid overtime) to our employers, when there is nothing returned to us except a moment on our death bed when we realize that we worked too much while we laughed and loved too little.
No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time on my business.’ – Arnold Zack, as quoted by Paul Tsongas in his Memoir “Heading Home”
Our time is the only resource we have – and we don’t know how much of it is available for us to use for ourselves and our families or offer to the world. It is such a small amount of time too! A man is only allotted about three score and ten years. Beyond that only the Creator grants additional time, and He can take us into the Celestial Lodge above at any moment before that. Would He approve of the ways we leveraged the use of our twenty-four-inch gauge during the time He permitted us to work in His quarries?