Most of the trees in our yard are bare now, yet it seems just yesterday they were full of spring buds. The trees are a tangible reminder of the passage of time and the importance of living life intentionally.
In elementary school, it was always exciting when our class was led single-file to a basement corridor to watch an educational movie. We sat cross-legged on the cold linoleum floor facing a concrete block wall where the reel-to-reel film was projected.
When I was in third grade, a full-color nature film featured the seasonal progression of an ordinary tree. Classical music played softly in the background and a woman’s soothing voice narrated. Through the magic of time-lapsed photography, tiny spring buds transformed into lush green leaves, morphed into autumn-colored foliage, and fell away leaving stark bare branches against a smoky gray sky.
I was captivated by the beauty, rhythm, and order of nature. Wearing my favorite plaid dress and ponytails, I fought back tears of wonder and joy. In an unforgettable moment of clarity, I became stunningly aware of time and its inevitable and precious passage.
The eight-year-old who held that memory now qualifies for senior citizen discounts. I hope I’ve made good use of my time so far. When I find myself drifting from one day to the next, nature reminds me time is passing whether or not I am living purposefully.
In her book Time Alive, contemporary author Alexandra Stoddard writes, “Our time alive is brief by any standard. Now is the only opportunity we’ll have to give life meaning and find satisfaction. Our entire life depends on the wise use of our moments.”
Certainly, our individual responsibilities and stage of life determine how we spend our days, but here are five suggestions to help you make the most of your precious time.
1. Evaluate How You’re Spending It ~ You might be surprised how much time you rack up watching television, looking at social media, or frittering away at things that don’t bring you real meaning or happiness.
2. Identify Your Priorities ~ Decide what’s most important to you and dedicate your time to those things. Making the best use of our time often means deciding what we choose not to do.
3. Picture Your Ideal Day ~ Considering the realities of your life, what does a well-spent day look like? Map out your morning, afternoon, and evening to create a general schedule that leads to living your best life.
4. Simplify Your Possessions ~ There’s no point in wasting your time acquiring, cleaning, organizing, and storing things you don’t really need or want. Imagine the time (and space) you could create.
5. Take Care of Yourself ~ You can’t make the best use of your time if you don’t feel your best. In that memorable film from my childhood, the tree that bloomed and grew through the seasons was a healthy one, rooted in purpose and simplicity.