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The Present

“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

“It occurred to him that there must be some state institute, a kind of time bank, where he would be able to change at least some part of his shabby seconds.” — Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notes of Malte Laurids Brigge,

Time is not ours to keep—more a wave we surf to the beach. We dabble in time, thinking about improving our productivity and efficiency and doing more with less, but really, we’re trying to avoid wasting the time we have. Making the most of the present is the only worthy goal as we surf this wave.

Lately conversations about time have come up a lot in the circles I run amuck in. Talk of people taking more time off, people who feel they’re time hasn’t been used wisely, people quickly running out of time (I’ve had more conversations about hospice recently than at any time in my life). Everybody is going through something in their lives. The surfing isn’t always great in this complex world.

This writing habit is one of the best things I’ve invested my time in. Writing isn’t passing the time, and it isn’t a celebration of one’s greatest exploits. It’s putting a spotlight on the hourglass and seeing each grain of sand and savoring the seconds. This is living in the present: good, bad and all that lies in between. The secret is to add depth and breadth to each moment of it. And maybe write the chapter in such a way that it lives on beyond the present.

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