• Dalya Shaw

Defining Time



I read once “Your most valuable lessons will be learnt in the most unexpected places from the least expecting people and often at the worst of times.”


During a trip to New York on a sabbatical of sorts, I learnt a valuable lesson about Time. It came in an unexpected way and as a result of my love of coffee. I sat in a café one morning pondering life and the universe and I realised in a single moment that (my) life is too short for crappy coffee. I realised that despite knowing time is precious, for the first time I felt like I was actually experiencing it. I thought about how often I had drank ‘crappy coffee’ in so many areas of my life without considering that I could never get those moments back. And the biggest wake-up call was despite knowing what I knew, I was 100% responsible!


We all have an hourglass that represents our life. The sand starts falling from the top when we are born and the last grain hits the bottom the moment we take our last breath and move to our next adventure. Time is what we all have in common. None of us know exactly how long we have and despite us all knowing how precious time is, it represents something different for everyone.


Ask the athlete who received a silver medal instead of gold based on a hundredth of a second how important time is to them. Ask the person who has been given 3 months to live what time means now or the one that has narrowly ‘escaped’ death and has been given the illusion of ‘more' time. Ask a parent who has lost a child to now define time.


Each of these people have a different relationship to this thing we call time. Regardless, the fact is this. We grow in time, we live in time, it never stops, nor does it wait for anyone. Once it is lost or wasted, it can never be regained, never captured and it cannot be saved up to be used later. We all have different amounts of this most valuable commodity and yet so often we don’t treat it as valuable at all.


How many cups of crappy coffee do we need to drink before we wake up and acknowledge that life is more precious than we treat it and that we are 100% responsible for every one of our choices? Some things matter some things don't.


So often we fall into the trap of justifying our decisions despite knowing better of them on a deeper level. Sometimes it is so easy to go down the path of least resistance hand in hand with the devil we know, as we order another cup of crappy coffee again and again. On some level we know it won’t taste good, we know nothing will have changed since the last time we had it and we know ultimately, we are going to be disappointed once more, yet we consciously choose the crappy coffee over and over again.


Why is it, if we only have a certain amount of this precious resource, we aren’t consistently more deliberate as to how we use it? We only have two choices, we can spend it wisely, or we can waste it. If we approached time more consciously, remembering what’s most important to us, surely it would impact our decision as to how we used our next period of it.

What if we continually asked ourselves, ‘is what I am about to do going to bring me closer to what I really want in life and what’s most important to me?’ and based our decision purely on the answer? How would our life look then?


Among the many things my son Ben and New York have taught me, one is the importance and value of time. I wish I could say up until now this was something I had managed well, but it is not. So, as I sat there still drinking my crappy cup of coffee, I pondered the activities of the last 40+ years. I was reminded of what was most important to me now and how I wanted my life to look from then on and in that moment I not only knew but, on some level, experienced that only I am responsible for my allotted amount time and I always have a choice.


One of the most powerful parts of the legacy my gorgeous son has left is the value he placed on time and how he chose to spend it. I realise now this is a lesson we will learn many times in our lives and one that is never too late to learn.


Much Love

Dalya xx 💙

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Dalya Shaw

Speaking Services | Writing Services

e: dalya@dalyashaw.com

Brisbane, Australia

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