The Time We Live By…

By Alison August 21, 2005 1 Comment 3 Min Read


In the late 1950’s, the actress Anna Neagle wrote a series of articles for "Woman" magazine.  As you would expect from a women renowned for her beauty, her column was refined and elegant and whether she was commenting on the folly of regret or the glory of independance, her writing was and remains inspirational. Here, from the first in a series, Anna, talks about the time we live by…

"  Time flies! As if anyone needed reminding of that!

The more I have to do, the less time I have to do it in- I once exclaimed to Herbert at the end of a specially busy day at the studios. You get the same ration as everyone else- he replied with a twinkle- It’s not time that goes too fast, Anna, it’s just that you lead such a full life!

Of course he was right. In a way we make our own time; each day we are presented with a fresh gift of twenty four hours, and we have to live our lives within that limit. But it’s in our own power to make the day short or long, filling it with achievement or just letting it run away to waste.

Do you remember how, in childhood, a long summer’s day could seem an eternity of delight? How Christmas Day , so very far out reach at the end of the calendar, took so long to come and then was gone in a flash? Yet both had exactly the same measure of hours.

When we are happy or busy, the day seems so short- and because we are using time, not letting time rule us, we have no sense of dissatisfaction, no feeling of being cheated at the end of the day.

It’s so easy to let precious hours run to waste. Sometimes we just can’t help it. when someone we love is very ill, and we have to wait anxiously for news; when a child is late home from school, when an aeroplane is behind it’s arrival schedule, every minute seems like an hour. We long for time to pass quickly. We gladly watch the minutes tick away . We are living then in the future, and that particular hour or day is for us already over- wasted.

And it is not only anxiety that does this to us. Loneliness, boredome, tiredness, sameness of routine- an uninteresting job- all have the same effect. time becomes an enemy to be conquered  and we forget that time is our life. We may have sixty years ahead of us- or only ten- none of us can tell.

We cannot entirely avoid anxiety, weariness, the routine task. They are as much a part of existence as the glorious moments of happiness and achievement. so how do we solve this problem of making the best possible use of our precious ration of twenty four hours a day?

I think the answer is really this: concentrate on living; in work and play, joy and sorrow, live always to the full limit of your capacity- and I am sure we are all unaware of our capacity until we are put to the test. Enjoy success, face up to disappointment, use it all to help you grow in understanding.

Ten years to someone who has spent her time really living is longer, much longer, than sixty years ruled by anxiety and by regret of the passing of the minutes."

Anna Neagle, Woman Magazine, Week ending, May 16th 1959.      

** Originally posted on my HouseKeepers Gazette.** 

1 Comment

  1. Greetings from Australia. Is this the same Woman magazine that is operating in the UK now?? A dear friend works on it & I'd love to send her this link. Thank you kindly, Jennie

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