Keeping the Past from Disappearing

How do you keep the past from disappearing?

Do you start a diary (or a blog) and write down your thoughts every day? Do you take pictures and throw them onto the Internet? Do you write a memoir? Do you simply meditate on the day that has gone by?

I wonder if perhaps, the best way to keep the past from disappearing is to live in the present. Perhaps the past is meant to be forgotten, just as long we learn the correct lessons from it, and then move on. I wonder if this is why meditation is so relaxing and enhancing: it pulls us out of the flow of time, out of the unending stream of things that need to be done, and lets us just be.

I read an article yesterday entitled The Ultimate Guide to Time Management (the first in a series). Though I’m generally skeptical of such titles this one proved to surprisingly level headed and action level. However given the technical details presented I’m afraid that perhaps the core messages will be lost. There is an infinite amount of work to be done. We will never do it all and we cannot do much at the same time. But we can do something everyday and those days strung together will lead to a lot of things done, a lot of changes made.

Personally I’ve found that it’s easy to let time pass you by. It’s easy to put off things, one hour at a time, one day at a time until it’s too late to do them. Sometimes you do want time to pass you by, when you’re watching a good movie, or having drinks with friends. But sometimes you need to remind yourself of the passage of time and remind yourself of how you’ve been spending it. Sometimes you want to catch the stream of time and hold on it for as long as you can.

For the past week I’ve been recording my activities and tracking how I use my time. Every 30 minutes my Android phone gives me a reminder to record what I’ve done in the last half hour. I then send a text to the IFTTT services which stores the message into a Google Spreadsheet along with the timestamp. It’s lightweight enough that I don’t have to interrupt whatever I’m doing and context shift completely. Since I tied it to my phone and texting I can record what I’m doing even if I’m away from a computer or the Internet. I’m planning on looking over this log at the end of the week and see just how much time I spent on each activity. However even without the review, I get a benefit every time I record something. If I’ve been slacking off this is a reminder that I should get back to work. If I’ve been working and getting things done it’s a good positive feedback mechanism. It helps me slow things down and makes me be more conscious about how time is passing and what I’ve doing with it.

I think that it’s a good thing that time only moves in one direction. It gives us a chance to learn about the past, take away lessons and then move on. The passage of time is also a continuous reminder that if we don’t take steps to actually live our lives, one day we won’t have a life left to live. I am skeptical of the notion of “managing time”, especially since we all get the same fixed amount of it. However we do have choices for what we do with that time. Learning how to make the right choices is worthwhile. I can’t say I’m always very good at it, but I do try to suck a little less each day.

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