Way back in the early days of email, a friend forwarded me a piece of writing that really stuck with me. It’s quite common now – and little dramatic – but I always thought it made a very good point. Specifically, about the value of time:
To understand the value of a year, talk to a student who has failed a final exam.
To understand the value of a month, talk to a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To understand the value of a week, talk to the publisher of a newspaper.
To understand the value of an hour, talk to a couple in love who are separated and want only to be together again.
To understand the value of a minute, talk to someone who has just missed their plane flight.
To understand the value of a second, talk to someone who has narrowly survived a car crash.
And to understand the value of a millisecond, talk to someone who won the silver medal at the Olympic Games.
My train journey to and from university used to take about twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes of concerted practice is enough time to significantly improve a sleight-of-hand technique. It’s enough time to learn several words of a foreign language. It’s enough time to deal with several unanswered emails. It’s also enough time to relax and meditate, leaving your mind better able to deal with all the shit you’re facing today.
Most of my sleight of hand skills were learned on those twenty minute train trips. Twenty minutes isn’t a lot of time, but it adds up. And when added up over a year or more, that twenty minutes can be valuable beyond measure.
All the skills I learned each day on those train journeys eventually added up to routines that have won awards, been played on TV, enabled me to travel all over the world, meet amazing people, and oh yes, make a lot of money.
So many amazing things that have happened in my life have been due to that twenty minutes, repeated day after day after day. No matter how busy you are, you can almost certainly put aside twenty minutes for something.
What are you going to use it for?
(Image by Flickr user Pen Waggener, licensed under Creative Commons)