I recall someone telling me when I was very young that time is a wise teacher that kills all of its students. I mulled over this phrase for a few years, and I began to realize the value that time possesses. I would argue that time is the most valuable commodity in existence because it is essentially all we really have. Time is the main component of our lives, and because of this we usually intuit that time has some inherent value, but most of us fail to appraise the actual value of every passing second.
Instead of realizing the full potential of our every moment, we may choose to drift along and distract ourselves from right now. The point I am trying to get across is this: the concept of yesterday and tomorrow truly are abstract. There really is no such thing in the present moment of existence as tomorrow or yesterday. Instead the only tangible thing is this ever present Flux of existence that we call this moment. The most important thing to realize about this moment is that it is our only access into influencing and controlling our existence. However, the present is not merely a tool that we can manipulate but rather it is a reflection of ourselves. It is us in our truest form. Our actions in this moment truly define who and what we are.
So I am going to leave a tip here on how to use your time more wisely, and hopefully it helps you even if only in a small way… Treat every moment as if that moment were a choice. You can either do something that will aid in your growth (take action), or you can do something that will leave you stagnant (stay passive). The problem that most people have is that they simply don’t know where to start when facing the challenge of becoming a better human being. So, I tell them this… Start where you are, do what you can, never give up. These three steps have helped me in so many ways that I can’t even begin to list the number of times I have recited them in my head to aid me in overcoming an obstacle I am facing. I will break them down for you and hopefully this will allow you to better apply them in your life.
- Start where you are: this simply means admitting the fact that you are where you are, because of the choices you have made in the past. Every moment you have spent alive is the summation of what you have become in this present moment. Realize this, and you can begin to control your actions to influence what you become.
- Do what you can: Step 1 is a mental step in reflecting on the present moment, but step 2 is a physical step. You must take action to take control of your existence. Exercise your body, and exercise your mind to the best of your ability. In doing so you are telling your body and your mind that not only are you willing to be stronger, faster, and smarter, but you are doing something about it. You are taking action to move in that direction.
- Never give up: this is the step that most people have trouble with. Your muscles will scream at you, your mind will beg for rest, but you must never stop pushing to become better. The will to take responsibility for your actions and to appreciate your body and mind should be in every fiber of your being. If not, go back to step 1 and get your ass in gear.
Now that I have verbally assaulted you (it’s tough love, I promise) I will wrap up this article with a fantastic quote that embodies the essence of what I am trying to say. I was in South Korea on a study abroad venture, and I encountered a VERY OLD Korean war veteran that worked as the University’s head of security. We could not verbally communicate, but we would sometimes sit and enjoy each others company for an hour or so and just be alone together in a sense. I would often be doing push-ups or pull-ups on the outdoor exercise equipment and he would come and join me. At the end of a set of push-ups, he said something to me and pointed to the large mountain that was on the south side of the school. I was thinking he was referring to the hiking path that the school boasts about, so I sort of shook it off.
The next day I came back to the outdoor exercise equipment with my roommate who could translate for us, and I started up another workout. The man came over and repeated his phrase from the day before, and this time my roommate was able to translate what he was saying. I said: “Is he trying to tell me about the pathway?” My roommate responded: “No… he says beyond that mountain is another mountain…” I asked him to question his senior about what he meant by that. My roommate then told me this: “He says that a fool will exercise to have strength, but a wise man will exercise to be strong.” It sounds contradictory at first glance, but the more I thought about it, the more I understood what he was saying. A fool will exercise to HAVE strength. In this sense, strength is objectified, as if one can own it. A wise man will exercise TO BE strong. Exercise is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. Being strong is not an accomplishment, but a constant action. It is something we DO not something we have.