On the Shortness of Life.

February 7, 2022

On the Shortness of Life.

May 29, 2023

“It’s not that we have a short time to live, but we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it’s been given to us in generous measure for accomplishing the greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when life is squandered through soft and careless living, and when it’s spent on no worthwhile pursuit, death finally presses on and we realize that the life of which we didn’t notice has passed away.” - Seneca

Seneca the Younger (son of his father, Seneca the Elder) lived till the ripe old age of 69 during Jesus’ time. He was a Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist who captured many of his moral ruminations in an extended essay with the same title as today’s blog. Here are four key lessons from Seneca’s essay:

  1. Think of time as precious a resource as money, and time only grows in value later in life.
  2. Time can be spent, invested, used, wasted, donated - just like money. Just reflect on and be conscious of how you’re channeling your time.
  3. Create immediate rewards for long-term goals.
  4. Don’t be afraid of death. Use it as an exquisite organizing principle for life.


Longevity has granted us more time, but it can feel like it speeds up as we get older. Professor Adrian Bejan suggests that the rate at which we process visual information slows down as we age, which makes time ‘speed up’ as we grow older. As he puts it: “People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth. It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful; it’s just that they were being processed in rapid-fire.”

Lastly, I think Gandhi’s advice may be the wisest when it comes to the topic of time: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

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