Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time” is to say “I don’t want to.”
Now if you’re like many people, this saying from Lao Tzu is not going to go down in your list of favorites. Research shows again and again that many of us feel time deprived, giving up sleep and exercise time to get work and family chores done.
Still, I think we should not dismiss Lao Tzu so easily. Saying “I don’t have time” has become for many of us the excuse that covers everything from doing distasteful things to trying new activities or even working towards goals that we say we want to achieve.
But a honest analysis of our time might reveal some troubling truths. Many people who say they don’t have time to exercise watch hours of television each day. I often say I don’t have time to work on my writing, but do manage to make time to read chapters of a novel or play hearts on the computer.
There’s nothing wrong with ditching a goal that no longer fits or choosing to spend time with family instead of going out with a friend who keeps asking you to the movies. But it’s important to realize that we are making choices, at every moment, on how we’re going to use our time.
To paraphrase Annie Dillard: How we spend our moments is how we spend our lives. Let’s make sure that we spend them consciously.