5 Stories On Time To Make You Live In The Present

These stories will help you realize the importance of "now"

Hey everyone,

Thousands of thoughts have been in my head lately, but two have a great spotlight: the scarcity of our time and how to live more in the present.

This week, I gathered some stories around time to ignite your brain and start taking action for a more present and soulfully deep life.

This week’s piece is an 8 min read.

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🧠 This week’s favorite thought 🧠

“Climb the mountain so that you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

David McCullough Jr.

1) The Sleep-Tax Bill

An average person lives for 27,000 days.

But before we can take ownership of those 27,000 days, nature imposes the “Sleep-Tax Bill” (credits to Genius Turner) - meaning that one-third of our living days will be spent sleeping.

This leaves us with 18,000 days left.

Oh wait, we also spend roughly 3,000 days trying to fall asleep.

Boom, 15,000 days to live.

Then we have to allocate 5,000 days working and commuting to work and another 4,000 days to all the screens we stare at.

6,000 days left to live.

And then, here comes the pleasures: 1,600 days on eating, 1,200 days on holidays, and 400 days on romance.

3,200 days altogether. Only 9 years of pleasure throughout the 74 years of an average lifespan.

What a fucking disgrace.

Oh, and what’s left to live?

2,800 days. Less than 8 years.

It’s an even bigger fucking disgrace.

Read that again.

2) Falling Young Stars vs. The Delayed Heroes

Charlie Javice was among the young hotshots featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30.

It’s an annual list presenting a handful of selected youngsters considered successful in their fields.

Javice was the co-founder and CEO of an “education tech” startup called Frank.

Her company was acquired by JPMorgan Chase in 2021 for $175 million.

The company claimed to serve over 5 million students at over 6,000 colleges.

After the acquisition, it turned out that it was (almost) all fake: the firm, Frank, had only 300,000 clients, and Javice pushed a data scientist to fabricate the customer base data.

Charlie Javice is now 31 and is facing a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

She is not the only one in recent years.

Elizabeth Holmes, the ex-CEO of Theranos, a blood diagnostics startup that is now defunct, will soon start serving her 11-year prison sentence. She’s 39.

She spent most of her young years trying to build her company and sticking to the mindset of “fake it 'till you make it.”

She eventually failed. Massively.

There are a few other examples, but it’s enough for now.

Overall: great success and fame at an early age don’t always bring profound and long-lasting positive impacts.

A quick rise can lead to a faster fall.

On the contrary, we have inspiring examples of late successes.

Just look at novelist Toni Morrison.

She wrote her first book at 39, waking up at 4 am every day to write her book while working full-time and raising two kids as a single mother.

With all the hard work she put into her life, success started to knock on her door in her 40s.

However, she had another superb 45+ alive years while being recognized with Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prize, among others.

What’s here to take away?

While we all shall live our lives thinking we will die soon, we should refrain from desperately focusing on quick wins and overnight successes.

We might lose more than we’d gain with early “wins.”

Finding our own defined success later than never is always on the table.

3) Alive Time vs. Dead Time

How alive are you?

Perhaps you spend most of your days in “autopilot mode,” commuting to work, spending 8 hours in disgust, then going home and staring at a screen for hours.

You are lazy and waiting for things to happen to you while lying on your ass. You are complaining like it would be your hobby.

And you are doing nothing to change that.

This is called Dead Time - according to Stoic writer Ryan Holiday. You make no use of your time on this planet.

Hopefully, this does not represent you but the opposite: alive time.

It refers to the moments that you can take control of. The life path is defined and designed by your intentions and consistent actions.

The moments that make you feel alive, as a human being, instead of a robot that takes orders.

Alive Time shows that you are brave. You take action, follow your curiosity, and are not afraid to try new things or experiences.

You might not yet be where you want to be in your life, but you take those necessary steps to move toward it.

Alive Time means you exploit your time on Earth (or in outer space…) as much as possible.

Which one do you choose today? To live in alive time or in dead time?

Don’t forget: most people die at 35 but will be buried at 80.

4) The More Productive You Try To Be, The Less You Live

I was obsessed with productivity and all the books, tips, and hacks around it for years.

I tried everything to find the perfect productivity method and tool to squeeze every minute of my day.

It didn’t work.

I realized that I wasn’t working that way.

While fancy XYZ methods and tools make millions for their creators, it’s not the right solution for everyone.

Writer Tim Denning says, “I’ve found with my own creativity that it needs the freedom to flow out of me in its own time. If I try use a pomodoro timer to control it, it dies fast.”

Lawrence Yeo argues that most of these productivity hacks hinder the true exploration in life as such, while it should not exist within the bounds of time.

Yeo also writes that humans’ consciousness of immortality also results in desperately trying to “make the most out of our time” instead of controlling our attention.

The more focused you are on time management, the more anxiety you unconsciously introduce in your life. You get hung up on how you utilize your precious minutes, which narrows your mind and vision.

Ironic: the more you want to take out of your time, the less you actually can.

“The more you view your time through the lens of productivity, the less you can see it through any other lens.”

Lawrence Yeo

So if you are like me and have been trying the 30th productivity app, but nothing works in the long run, it’s time to stop it.

Embrace the imperfection of your days to let your imagination and creativity flow.

You are not a robot.

5) We Live In The Illusion of Time

We mostly suck at living in the moment.

We wake up in the morning, and our mind starts spinning around all the tasks we must do that day.

How often do you just get out of bed and stare outside with a cup of coffee, doing & thinking nothing else?

I bet you don’t do it often.

Most of our adult moments are around the thoughts of future issues and problems we need to tackle.

This also triggers our overthinking machine.

Believe me; I am no different at most times.

I can get hung up on the future a lot. What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be at? Who am I gonna spend my life with?

But philosopher Alan Watts gave a deep and powerful speech about how we fall for this illusion of time.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

He argues that we spend most of our time and a great deal of mental energy living in a time that is not there - either in the past or the future.

It pulls us away from reality.

Because the truth is that true reality is the present moment now.

Wherever you are, just take a look at your surroundings. The people, the sounds, the smells. That is your true reality. Nothing else beyond that.

As Watts said:

“You can’t live at all, unless you live fully now.”

Alan Watts

Máté - The Mindful Guerilla

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📹 Video: Related to this week’s topic, here’s a speech from philosopher Alan Watts on the eternal now. Food for thoughts to live more in the present.

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