Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zorba the Greek and our perception of time.

I was acquainted to Zorba the Greek because of forays into Lifestyle Design.

http://www.amazon.com/Zorba-Greek-Nikos-Kazantzakis/dp/0684825546/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263278826&sr=1-1

Having only read less than 50 pages, the deep insights into life as exhibited by the title character already has useful insights that we can all learn from.

I think that there are two special types of people that we can encounter in our daily lives.

a) People who live their lives as if they will live forever.

These people do have yet to feel their mortality. People who act as if they'll be around forever ( like myself ) is always be concerned the about the future. We are always planning our contingencies and taking steps to sacrifice the present for the future. People in this category are conscientious and have a future orientation towards time.

b) People who live as if their lives can end any minute.

These people know that they live finite lives. These people do their utmost to enjoy life's simple pleasures because no one can really know what is happening next. They are action orientated and always around to find amusement even in the most mundane of things. People in this category exhibit a deep open-mindedness and have a present orientation towards time.

Unlike Zorba the Greek, I will not favour one mode or lifestyle for another, I think that there is a time and place for everything. Younger folks with their sense of invincibility should make some personal sacrifices and delay gratification to bring something important to this world prior to reaching middle-age. After middle-age, it's wiser to come to terms with one's mortality and start thinking of ways to enjoy life better and find pleasure in one's families.

What is interesting is that finance theory can benefit people who adopt both philosophies.

People who live as if they will be around forever should take need of compounding value of money. Saving and investing for the future will allow one to compound their assets and create a powerful second stream of asset enhancement, hence increasing the quality fo life in the future.

People who live as if they will die every minute should start thinking about the compounding value of time. This concept is more arcane and fewer people understand how this works. When we compound time, we find ways to do more with less so that the time we get can be spent doing something that we enjoy. One example is through automation. Can the work we do be automated with macros and scripts ? Another is through outsourcing - can our work is givne to someone who can do it better for less ?

In summary, we should try to emulate these two special types of people. We should avoid becoming the third kind of person. Someone who lives without any inkling of his mortality and neither prepares for the future or revels in the present. You know who these people are : fatalistic types who keep trying to remember the good old days and blame all the changes in society and all this while marching slowly towards oblivion.

Stories of hope are never written for such people. Tragedies are.

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