“Maybe the problem is not that we don’t have enough time but that we waste the time we have. Seneca famously thought this. (‘It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.’) Most of us seem unable to refrain from ‘wasting’ time. It is the rare person indeed who can be maximally efficient and productive. For the rest of us — that is, for almost all of us — Seneca’s advice about not wasting time seems true but useless.

If we devoted our entire lives to one great painting or one beautiful melody, even if that work was a masterpiece, we might feel absurd to have spent our entire lives on it. A life so spent is bound to have been narrow, confining and oddly obsessive. That doesn’t seem to be a reasonable way to spend one’s entire life. It seems out of scale. But if life were much longer, we might have enough time to write many books, paint many paintings, compose many melodies and, over a couple of hundred years or so, get really good at it. We might even feel fulfilled, accomplished and decidedly non-absurd. Maybe not, but we would have more of a chance than we do now, in our fleeting, ludicrous, minute lifespan.”

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