Ephemeral Time — My Stoic Musings 003

“How many have laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy…

“How many have laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire, and social amusements — how little of your own was left to you. You will realize you are dying before your time!” — Seneca, On the brevity of life, 3.3b

Time must be a stoic’s greatest enemy since it is the one thing that is truly out of his control. It is almost sad to think that the greatest conquerors that have lived throughout history were all beaten by time. Jeff Bezos, the richest man on the planet, must be aware as well that he can’t buy time with all his money and resources and power. Time, I feel, is like sand; the more tightly you try to hold it in your hand, the more of it you lose. And yet, we spend so much time on stupid things and act as if its supply is infinite. We spend hours every day watching random things on Youtube and Netflix that we don’t even enjoy much and instead feel guilty of watching. So much time is wasted wallowing in sadness, anger, or disappointment. We spend so much time looking at what others have when instead we could’ve been working to get ours. Especially in these times, we spend hours every day simply screaming in the endless void of the internet hoping someone would validate our opinions. In our office lives, we spend so much time working on non-essential things that don’t really matter instead of working on what is truly essential, as author Greg McKeown says in his book, “Essentialism”. Perhaps we need to learn to say ‘no’. We need to say no to the craving of being a ‘keyboard activist’ on Twitter and instead choose to be more present and impactful in our non-digital lives. We need to say no to pointless grief that serves no purpose in our lives. We need to be better at accepting the true non-renewability of time and live our lives in genuine acceptance of that. Maybe then we will be happier and more content with our lives. Not because we have more time, but because we are simply focussing on only the essential things in that limited time.


This article is a part of my Stoic Musings challenge, inspired by the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, where I take a quote from the book and reflect on it, every day.