Arnold Bennett
Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

British author Arnold Bennett wrote in 1910:

…I have seen an essay, “How to live on eight shillings a week.” But I have never seen an essay, “How to live on twenty-four hours a day.” Yet it has been said that time is money. That proverb understates the case. Time is a great deal more than money. If you have time you can obtain money — usually. But though you have the wealth of a cloak-room attendant at the Carlton Hotel, you can not buy yourself a minute more time than I have, or the cat by the fire has.

Philosophers have explained space. They have not explained time. It is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible; without it, nothing. The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it.

Sunrise at Cheow Lan Lake
Sunrise at Cheow Lan Lake

You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. A highly singular commodity, showered upon you in a manner as singular as the commodity itself!

For remark! No one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive.

Talk about an ideal democracy! In the realm of time there is no aristocracy of wealth, and no aristocracy of intellect. Genius is never rewarded by even an extra hour a day. And there is no punishment. Waste your infinitely precious commodity as much as you will, and the supply will never be withheld from you. No mysterious power will say: “This man is a fool, if not a knave. He does not deserve time; he shall be cut off at the meter.”

It is more certain than consols, and payment of income is not affected by Sundays. Moreover, you cannot draw on the future. Impossible to get into debt! You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow; it is kept for you. You cannot waste the next hour; it is kept for you.

I said the affair was a miracle. Is it not?

Every Day is a New Day

When Bennett says “You cannot waste tomorrow; it is kept for you. You cannot waste the next hour; it is kept for you”, of course, he means that every day is a new day, a chance to use the time wisely, fruitfully. Certainly we all know people (and at times have ourselves been those people) who have wasted hours and days or entire lives, for that matter. But every new day is a full 24 hours to use in a better way.

How will you use your today — the “twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life”?

a gold pocket watch

4 Replies to “The Daily Miracle

  1. Not for making pie crust, but after reading that post, I’d sure like to! Maybe tomorrow. And what a wonderful quote: “…the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life.” I wonder: would a theist call that “god?”

  2. Not being a theist, I am not sure. Perhaps a theist would say the recurring miracle is a gift from God. Don’t know. What would a Buddhist say?
    As for pie crust, how does one make pie crust when the ambient temperature is always in the 90s? Good pastry requires cold everything. How do they make those fantastic croissants you have in Chiangmai? They must have an air conditioned bakery.

  3. We are often faced with ‘life is not fair’ but you make a good argument for ‘life is fair’, when it comes to time, it is fair. That’s kind of a nice thought, a comforting thought. I’m going to remember that.

  4. Hi, feather! There is a lot which is not fair in life, but everybody gets a fresh 24 hours every morning to work with. Recognizing this helps one let go of the past and be in the moment, while moving to a better future.

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