Before I left home, my dad gave me a watch.

He said I should give things time. I kept rushing, wanted time to go by faster and faster by the minute. I wanted to jump years ahead, get to the “fun part of life.”

I didn’t understand it then, and sometimes still refuse to understand it now, but time is gonna pass no matter what, and it’s gonna run at the pace it’s always done. Just like my old watch, which ran out of batteries by now, used to tick at the same pace as every other watch.

The word “pace” is important here. The fact that we can’t influence it, even more.

It means that the minutes will turn into hours, months and eventually, in their due time, to years. It won’t go faster, we don’t get a skip button.

But we also don’t get to slow it down.

That leaves us with two options:

Either we use the time, or we waste it.

The last sentence might seem a little extreme; maybe an exaggeration for narrative purposes. Well, I don’t believe it to be. I believe that to be the truth.

Every moment we don’t use for growth, is a moment in which we could be growing, but aren’t. Every moment we don’t use to learn, is a moment in which we could be learning something, but aren’t.

There’s only a finite amount of things we can accomplish in any timeframe. People learn at their own paces and will develop slowly or quickly depending on their inclinations. Nobody in this day an age reasonably expects to own a house and be financially independent at 21, and yet I’ve met many a 21 with much more experience and wisdom than people 10 years their elders.

I believe that while their elders were chilling, those 20-somethings were out moving.

I’m not advocating alienation. Closing ourselves off in our rooms, working at every waking hour, running nonstop and wearing out by the time we’re 27.

But I am advocating the good choice in our entertainment hours, in our downtime. All I’m saying is: make sure you’re putting your hours to use. Good use.

Or as Ryan Holiday puts:

“Make sure you enjoy your relaxation like a poet—not idly, but actively, observing the world around you, taking it all in, better understanding your place in the universe. Take a day off from work every now and then, but not a day off from learning.”

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