There are 24 hours in a day. Another way of interpreting it is there are 1,440 minutes in a day. Another way of interpreting that is there are 86,400 seconds in a day. No matter how the amount of time in a day is broken down, the fact is the amount of time is exactly the same, and every hour, every minute, and every second matters. More than ever, as time passes and the minutes, hours and days pass, there is the realization of time being the most important resource in a person’s possession.
There’s uncertainty as to when the moment of clarity came on this end. The title of this post is drawn from a line in The Shawshank Redemption when Andy Dufresne and Red were sitting in the prison yard having a conversation. Andy's realization of being in prison for nearly 20 years (1), with no sign of his release coming to fruition, led him to quote a line that has stuck since the first time being exposed to the movie years ago. It can take a myriad of events for people to conclude that time truly is the most precious resource a person has. It is a resource that people cannot get back and should be cherished as much as possible. On the flip side, time is something that is often predicated by, or shared with, other people. The unpredictability of another person, or people, can often lead to time not being viewed with the preciousness, urgency, and respect that it should. Time is easy to distribute when the only variable is a single person. Once additional people and responsibilities are added to the equation, the more the challenge becomes making sure time is spent it in an efficient manner, or to make sure things are being done.
The one thing that seems to be accepted by the masses is people not being fans of wasting time. It is plain as day when a person is heard saying things like “Aint nobody got time for that,” or “I’m not about to waste my time,” or any other concrete and bold declarations of what they are not going to do with their time merely because it seems, at least somewhat, that there is an understanding that time is not something that people can get back. Someone can borrow $20 and pay it back, but a person cannot borrow 20 minutes and give it back. Once that time is spent, it is a part of history and never to return.
Time should be appreciated whether it is in the context of friendships, relationships, professions, or any other medium. Granted, it gets much more difficult when having and raising a family is a factor, and that concept of time and how it should be interpreted and defined is deferred to people who have a more balanced and nuanced understanding of those elements than the person writing this does. With that said, the concept of “get busy living or get busy dying” has to do with the understanding that everyone is not meant to be on the same journey, which also means that some people and places are going to be left behind if a basic tenet of time is using it as efficiently as possible. At one point, there were people and situations that were given the courtesy of time. When people say “Aint nobody got time for that,” that can also mean that the people saying it have to be ready to move on from situations they previously made time for, and that can be a humbling thing to do when familiarity breeds comfort. However, it can also breed contempt, and part of realizing the importance of time, and maximizing time, is understanding that a way to use time properly is not to become content in the comforts of the familiar.
Tomorrow is not promised. The plan now is to appreciate time more than ever and spend it well and on the move. Any person and situation in life can be seen as a contributor to reaching the conclusion of the value of time, but it doesn’t mean that those same people and situations need to ride along for the rest of the journey. As Andy said, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: get busy living or get busy dying,” and the most effective way to do that is to look out for number one, even if it means leaving familiar faces and places behind.