On The Shortness Of Life

24th January 2020 | Reading time: 8 min
By Rakesh Singh

the lady programmer
Source : Google


ime flows swift and sure in one direction and it neither check its course nor it will lengthen itself over a king's command or over a people's favour and so life is. Enormous people complaint about the meanness of nature, maybe because we are born with a brief span of life. And because of this spell, life rushes on so rapidly that it begins to cease itself just as we are getting ready for it.

People often prodigally waste the things they have in profusion. What else we have in extremely large amount other than our time? A non-renewable resource. Seneca the younger, fully known as Lucius Annaeus Seneca or simply Seneca, was a Roman stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist, who believed that:

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.

~ Seneca

A couple of months earlier, I was reading a book called 'On The Shortness Of Life' written by Seneca and the book made me familiar with the way people spend their lives on meaningless and pointless things. One can make a clear distinction among good and evil only if his mind is not preoccupied with insatiable greed and desire, he says. Those whose mind is free from ephemeral satisfaction and happiness are the only one who have control over their time, they are the ones who can shape their life the way they want. It prompted me to think how am I going to spend my 86,400 seconds everyday and how I could prioritize it with meaningful tasks. Of course, the length of the book was little shorter than what I expected but it wasn't about the length of the book but the depth of it; which was pretty much deep and precise. But how can we think of life in terms of time?

Imagine a line moving constantly forward in one direction, say in right, and if you magnify it a multiple times, you will eventually see that the line is made up of millions of infinitesimally small points arranged in a specific order which gives a particular direction. These fundamental and significant dots collectively constitutes a line otherwise it can't be drawn.

That said, those tiny points are the events of our life in the context of time. Time is a dimension in which the evolution of state of a system is allowed to occur or happen. It's only a small portion of life that we really get to live. Indeed, all the rest is not life but merely a time. And why do we linger? I mean, why are we idle? As your life started out itself on the very first day, so it will run on, nowhere neither pausing itself nor turning aside under any circumstance. If you do not grasp it, it will flee and if you don't, it will still flee. So we must resonate our actions with the swiftness of time. We all are so blindly allured by ephemeral happiness that we almost forget that life will cause no commotion to remind us of its swiftness, but will glide on. Meanwhile, the death will arrive and we have no choice other than making ourselves available for that. One has to live all his life only to die one day.

Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.

~ Seneca

Life is short, art is long. There are every kind of priests and saints who could teach you nearly every other art but you will hardly find anyone who could illuminate you with diversities of life. Even boys have grasped some of the art so thoroughly that they can even teach them. But learning how to live takes a whole lifetime, and, which may surprise you even more, it takes a whole lifetime to learn how to die. Many ancient philosophers, saints, poets and priests put aside all their engagements and encumbrances and made their aim up to end of their lives just to know how to live. Yet many of them failed or died confessing that they don't yet know. Believe me they are above human errors because they devoted all of their time entirely to themselves and never let it be frittered away. They didn't find their time worth exchanging with anything. That's why many poets, some known and some unknown, speaks elegantly not of the 'finest age' but of the 'finest day'. Everyone's life is divided into three subsets: past, present and future. Among these, past is certain, present is short and future is doubtful. It snatches away each day as it comes, even today is escaping. The whole future lies in uncertainity, so live immediately. Life is very short for those who forgets his past, neglect the present and fear the future. The present moment is extremely short, so much so that many people are unaware of it. Imagine how shocking it would be if we could tally our future year set before us, as we can of our past. How alarmed would be those who could see only a few years ahead of him and how carefully he would plan every second of his time?

But every equation should always be balanced. One can never find true happiness in just carefully planning and curating his time, making effort just to learn how he should live his life. To attain a long-term happiness and pleasure, our minds should not be kept at constant pitch of concentration, but given some amusing diversion to work efficiently and effectively as it will rise better and keener right after the relaxation.

Below, there are some lines from the book which I liked the most:-

• We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it. Just as when ample and princely wealth falls to a bad owner it is squandered in a moment, but wealth however modest, if entrusted to a good custodian, increases with use, so our lifetime extends amply if you manage it properly.

• You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.

• You are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply – though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last.

• No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied.

• Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man; yet there is nothing which is harder to learn.

• You must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long.

• Some men are preoccupied even in their leisure: in their country house, on their couch, in the midst of solitude, even when quite alone, they are their own worst company. You could not call theirs a life of leisure, but an idle preoccupation.

• Again, do you call those men leisured who spend many hours at the barber’s simply to cut whatever grew overnight, to have a serious debate about every separate hair, to tidy up disarranged locks or to train thinning ones from the sides to lie over the forehead.

• Bias always affects our judgment.

• Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.

• Think your way through difficulties: harsh conditions can be softened, restricted ones can be widened, and heavy ones can weigh less on those who know how to bear them.

As William Shakespeare said so beautifully about time with these lines: time is very slow for those who wait, very fast for those who are scared, very long for those who lament, very short for those who celebrate. But for those who love, time is eternal.

Tagged : ThinkingBetter Habits

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