People say that it is better to live in the present rather that in the past. I would argue that the present does not exist, except as a figure of speech that is conveniently used, a handy tool used in polite society when in fact what we are talking about is something that does not exist. It is simply a human invention.
If one could stop time, then yes, there would be something called “the present”. That moment would be frozen in time so that indeed, there would be a before and an after moment. But in real life, no one can stop time and therefore, there is no time to reflect in the present moment. It is simply not there. Time still flows each moment that we take to ponder our lives, except that we now have less of it than before our pondering began.
We are like surfers surfing on the wild ocean of Time perilously perched on a giant wave. Behind us is our past while ahead is our future, and we are surfing that wave without time to compose ourselves or to reflect on what is going on in our lives. We simply do not have the time.
Time simply flows whether we want it or not. It is the ultimate player that we face everyday; it never rests and is always playing the game. We have no choice but to play, and if we decide to stop and reflect on what we are doing, the player facing us will still play. Time elapses whether we want it or not. What is worse of course is that this game that we call life will end, but we do not know when nor how. There is no certainty that we can play this game till we want it to as it might end at any moment, catching us by surprise as it often does.
The younger you are the more time you have, in theory. In fact, there is no certainty in this as one person might live to be 90 years old while another will die in his 20’s. Time is the ultimate currency. At the start we all have the same amount of it and yet, as people age, some complain that they have been short-changed, that somehow they do not have enough of it. Surely it is an illusion. Every day we all have the same amount of this currency. No one is short-changed on a daily basis and yet, it is true that some have longer lives than others and so, have more of it. But even if this were true, it is only after time has elapsed to such an extent that the recipient of this abundance realizes that less and less of his friends and family are around to celebrate with him.
Some would object that nothing has been said about the quality of life, and that it should matter in the equation. I agree, but how to define quality? What I would qualify as quality in living others would object to my definition. Once again, language rears its ugly head. We are trying to define something that is hard to pin down and that is intensely personal. Someone in a wheelchair might be content in their condition but for me, it would be a severe curtailing of the quality of my life. To each his own.