This is from a conversation between Joe Hyams, Sterling Silliphant and Bruce Lee (李小龍 – Li Jun Fan)
On one such occasion we talked about the difference between wasting time and spending time. Bruce was the first to speak.
“To spend time is to pass it in a specific manner” he said. “We are spending it during lessons just as we are spending it now in conversation. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.
“It is the most precious commodity we have, “agreed Sterling. “I always view my time as divided into infinite moments or transactions or contacts. Anyone who steals my time is stealing my life because they are taking my existence from me. As I get older, I realize that time is the only thing I have left. So when someone comes to me with a project, I estimate the time it will take me to do it and then ask myself, ‘Do I want to spend weeks or months of what little time I have on this project? Is it worth it or is it wasting my time?’ If I consider the project time-worthy I do it.
“I apply this same yardstick to my social relations. I will not permit people to steal my time. I have limited my friends to those people with whom time passes happily. There are moments in my life – necessary moments – when I don’t do anything but what is my choice. The choice of how I spend my time is mine, and it is not dictated by social convention”
After Sterling finished talking, Bruce looked into space for a few moments. When he finally spoke, it was to ask if he could make a telephone call.
When he came back, Bruce was smiling. “I just cancelled an appointment.” he said. “It was with someone who wanted to waste my time and not help me spend it”
Read Joe Hyams’ book, “Zen in the Martial Arts” here: books.google.com