Food for thought from “Time and the Art of Living” by Robert Grudin,
chapters 3 and 4:
III.11 How will we, five or ten or twenty years hence, look back on present time? Most probably, with envy and regret. We will wonder why, given youth and health and broad reaches of time, we learned so little, loved so little, risked so little; how so much time could have drained so immemorially down the sink of routine and distraction. Yet these regrets . . . ignore the broader continuity . . . crucial decisions and opportunities are always before us, no less now than in the past, no less in the future than now.
III.15 . . . by mistaking process for being, and motion for stasis, we tend to fall out of touch with our reality in time – with countless opportunities for enlightenment and will which are offered daily.
III.21 If we did simple exercises for thirty minutes a day, we would greatly improve our strength, health, beauty and life expectancy. If we studied for one hour a day, we could relatively soon learn languages, master wide knowledge and develop new professions. If we sensibly invested $1 a day, we would in thirty years control substantial wealth. If we did ourselves the almost absurdly simple honor of planning our free time, we would enlarge ourselves into a while new dimension of freedom.
III.25 We alternately envy, praise, despise and tease those unusual people who plan ahead, who keep precise calendars of when they will be where, seeing whom and doing what. Yet in all these posturings we tend to ignore a benefit of their behavior which is at once the simplest and the most spiritual. They can escape despair. The have cast tow-lines out to the future and can, when necessary, drag themselves through a becalmed or stormy present. And they have peopled the wilderness of things to come with images of themselves in action or relaxation or festive attire.
III.28 But one thing we must not do is imagine that (the future) contains essential human qualities or unique opportunities which we now lack.
IV.6 Just as one sends a letter from place to place, one may send, to one’s self or others, letters though time. Photographs, mementos and journal entries are letters we send into the future; and by writing or speaking about events gone by we can communicate to some extent with the past. To do this regularly and intelligently is to expand our being in time.