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Time and the Art of Living

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This is a book about time--about one's own journey through it and, more important, about enlarging the pleasure one takes in that journey. It's about memory of the past, hope and fear for the future, and how they color, for better and for worse, one's experience of the present. Ultimately, it's a book about freedom--freedom from despair of the clock, of the aging body, of This is a book about time--about one's own journey through it and, more important, about enlarging the pleasure one takes in that journey. It's about memory of the past, hope and fear for the future, and how they color, for better and for worse, one's experience of the present. Ultimately, it's a book about freedom--freedom from despair of the clock, of the aging body, of the seeming waste of one's daily routine, the freedom that comes with acceptance and appreciation of the human dimensions of time and of the place of each passing moment on life's bounteous continuum. For Robert Grudin, living is an art, and cultivating a creative partnership with time is one of the keys to mastering it. In a series of wise, witty, and playful meditations, he suggests that happiness lies not in the effort to conquer time but rather in learning "to bend to its curve," in hearing its music and learning to dance to it. Grudin offers practical advice and mental exercises designed to help the reader use time more effectively, but this is no ordinary self-help book. It is instead a kind of wisdom literature, a guide to life, a feast for the mind and for the spirit.


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This is a book about time--about one's own journey through it and, more important, about enlarging the pleasure one takes in that journey. It's about memory of the past, hope and fear for the future, and how they color, for better and for worse, one's experience of the present. Ultimately, it's a book about freedom--freedom from despair of the clock, of the aging body, of This is a book about time--about one's own journey through it and, more important, about enlarging the pleasure one takes in that journey. It's about memory of the past, hope and fear for the future, and how they color, for better and for worse, one's experience of the present. Ultimately, it's a book about freedom--freedom from despair of the clock, of the aging body, of the seeming waste of one's daily routine, the freedom that comes with acceptance and appreciation of the human dimensions of time and of the place of each passing moment on life's bounteous continuum. For Robert Grudin, living is an art, and cultivating a creative partnership with time is one of the keys to mastering it. In a series of wise, witty, and playful meditations, he suggests that happiness lies not in the effort to conquer time but rather in learning "to bend to its curve," in hearing its music and learning to dance to it. Grudin offers practical advice and mental exercises designed to help the reader use time more effectively, but this is no ordinary self-help book. It is instead a kind of wisdom literature, a guide to life, a feast for the mind and for the spirit.

30 review for Time and the Art of Living

  1. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Have given this book away many times--it's Montaignesque in style, common-sense philosophy, or meditations, on the nature of time. What's big in time and small in space? (A stone) What's small in time but large in space (a cloud). How would you visualize the present? A newspaper. How would you visualize the future? an empty piece of paper. The past? a pile of newspapers. Have given this book away many times--it's Montaignesque in style, common-sense philosophy, or meditations, on the nature of time. What's big in time and small in space? (A stone) What's small in time but large in space (a cloud). How would you visualize the present? A newspaper. How would you visualize the future? an empty piece of paper. The past? a pile of newspapers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brynn

    "Time runs slower at the beginning, faster at the end of a period; for we tend to conceive of periods in terms of time remaining rather than time elapsed, and minutes near the end of a period constitute a greater percentage of remaining time than minutes near the beginning." (3) "Indeed, people who seem to know the past and the future well have a habit of conceiving of them as forms of present time." (13) "Try to make the present memorable; or, failing this, review daily what is important about th "Time runs slower at the beginning, faster at the end of a period; for we tend to conceive of periods in terms of time remaining rather than time elapsed, and minutes near the end of a period constitute a greater percentage of remaining time than minutes near the beginning." (3) "Indeed, people who seem to know the past and the future well have a habit of conceiving of them as forms of present time." (13) "Try to make the present memorable; or, failing this, review daily what is important about the present period in your life. In so doing you will enrich time." (26) "Considering, for a moment, time's three dimensions as mental vessels, we store our accidents in the past, our worries and desires in the present, and we preserve the future as a virginal receptacle for hope and will." (31) "And intelligent individuals treat their memories in the same way, realizing that their past is no more finished or dead than their ability to understand it." (33) "We alternatively envy, praise, despise and tease those unusual people who plan ahead, who keep precise calendars of when they will be where, seeing whom and doing what." Yet in all these posturings we tend to ignore a benefit of their behavior which is at once the simplest and the most spiritual. They can escape despair. They have cast two-lines out to the future and can, when necessary, drag themselves through a becalmed or stormy present." (43) "It is never amiss to be reminded of one's inconsistencies, especially since hypocrisy, the champion vice, is often born of no more than inconsistency and forgetfulness." (50) "Every home should have a room, or at least a nook with two chairs, where it is a sin punishable by immediate expulsion to speak of money, business, politics or the state of one's teeth." (59) "The idea of free will in interaction with mechanistic circumstance suggests no contradiction at all; for true freedom is uniquely defined by its response to the inevitable." (62) "...for in a way that few moderns understand, the mind is as limited by what it rebels against as it is by what it accepts." (67) "Do not be impatient about the future when you know that it contains good things. Instead, enjoy these as future things, as often and lingeringly as possible. Events can be enjoyed in all three dimensions of time: as future, present, and past." (104) "...that the pain of growing old lies specifically in the fact that part of us does not grow old." (113) "When originality occurs at all (which is rare), it occurs as a by-product of conviction." (134) "The artist who cannot repeat cannot vary." (143) "Regretting wasted time is itself a waste of time, an unconscious strategy of evasion." (164) "It is only when we forget having forgotten that a door closes between us and the past." (171) "...to remember anything well, we must understand its general structure." (182)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alex Jeffries

    I began this book on the side of a river outside of a national park, beer in one hand, highlighter pen in the other. What better time could there be to begin a book on time than when one has an abundance? Over the next few days I'd read sections, let Robert's musings on time soak into my hastily assembled road trip, and think broadly about time and the art of living, as talked about in Time and the Art of Living. Almost immediately after the vacation I started up a new job that stands to threate I began this book on the side of a river outside of a national park, beer in one hand, highlighter pen in the other. What better time could there be to begin a book on time than when one has an abundance? Over the next few days I'd read sections, let Robert's musings on time soak into my hastily assembled road trip, and think broadly about time and the art of living, as talked about in Time and the Art of Living. Almost immediately after the vacation I started up a new job that stands to threaten my beloved daily rhythms, schedules and hobbies; in turn this book became more than just a delight, the book equivalent of a meandering brook - it became a necessity to staking my ground in the slippery slope world of television production, where the future is only ever a week away, the present has needs, and we pay no respect to the past, unless we need to ravage it for some highlights to fill time. The book became a wonderful salve to all the wearying mental burns television places on my psyche. So many passages struck personal chords, and so many more I know will in the coming months and years. I finished this book on the couch besides the computer I'll now use to look up news stories for work, coffee in one hand, highlighter pen in the other. It's important to make space for what you care about, no matter what else demands your time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Yejin

    'form is at it's best a meaningful assortment of oppositions- light and dark, fast and slow, serious and comic, orderly and chaotic. without this dynamic formal interplay, the sublimest vision and the earthiest realization are equally empty of power. the artist who cannot compel seriousness can never command irony. the artist immune to violence is incapable of peace. the artist who cannot repeat cannot vary.' This book is to the mind what vitamins are to the body; It's not meant to be read more t 'form is at it's best a meaningful assortment of oppositions- light and dark, fast and slow, serious and comic, orderly and chaotic. without this dynamic formal interplay, the sublimest vision and the earthiest realization are equally empty of power. the artist who cannot compel seriousness can never command irony. the artist immune to violence is incapable of peace. the artist who cannot repeat cannot vary.' This book is to the mind what vitamins are to the body; It's not meant to be read more than few pages at a time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book offers profound ideas to return to over and over. The material is organized into numbered snippets, the author's reflection on time and how we live. His ideas never get too specific to his life, so they are easy to relate to. His thoughts are more for reflection and pondering. Each time I flip through the book, something touches me that hadn't in previous readings. This book offers profound ideas to return to over and over. The material is organized into numbered snippets, the author's reflection on time and how we live. His ideas never get too specific to his life, so they are easy to relate to. His thoughts are more for reflection and pondering. Each time I flip through the book, something touches me that hadn't in previous readings.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    Meditations on time and how to live every moment artfully. I've read it multiple times. "Because we believe that one moment is more or less like the next, we lose touch with the essential urgency of the present, the fact that each passing moment is the one moment for the practice of freedom." Meditations on time and how to live every moment artfully. I've read it multiple times. "Because we believe that one moment is more or less like the next, we lose touch with the essential urgency of the present, the fact that each passing moment is the one moment for the practice of freedom."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Sunset

    Loved this book! Little bite size reflections on time. Always fun to come back to.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    .... What to say .... .... Here's how the book was described to me (Hi, -A. I'm plagiarizing you, I guess. Deal with it.): "The book itself is hard to put into a nutshell, suffice it to say that it's a self-help book, I guess, though not really--more like an educated and well-read man's thoughts about the nature of time and our place in it in a variety of contexts... . I still can't think of a better way to put it than calling it an intellectual self-help book. ... The only real self-helpy parts co .... What to say .... .... Here's how the book was described to me (Hi, -A. I'm plagiarizing you, I guess. Deal with it.): "The book itself is hard to put into a nutshell, suffice it to say that it's a self-help book, I guess, though not really--more like an educated and well-read man's thoughts about the nature of time and our place in it in a variety of contexts... . I still can't think of a better way to put it than calling it an intellectual self-help book. ... The only real self-helpy parts come in the reader's subsequent mulling over Grudin's thoughts, I guess. ... " And I can't say it better myself. It's almost a book of aphorisms, Grudin's thoughts about time, life, aging, our mental states, etc. There really were some wonderful parts, times of "Oh, that's beautiful" and "I'm not the only one who thinks that?!?" and "Wow, I've never thought of it that way before." But the thing is -- and I know there's an irony in this -- I just couldn't get into it because it was just SO ... long? boring? intense? The irony that exists is that he's writing about how we view time, and how time affects us, and how we don't appreciate the past or present or future (depending on which nugget of advice he's giving), and yet I didn't want to keep reading this because I couldn't slow down enough to appreciate it. All I could think about was whether I'd want to keep the book when I was done, and what my next book would be, and how many books are on my to-read list and OH MY GOD I DON'T HAVE ALL OF THIS TIME TO BE WASTING ON THIS BOOK! But I kept reading because some of his sections are really insightful, and I kept going to see how many more were touching like that. Finally, though, on page 117 of 189, I decided just not to bother anymore. It was a chore, and even the "Ooh, I like this, let me write it down" parts were becoming chores. So it's time to move on. I apologize, Mr. Grudin, for not being able to fully appreciate the present (and your words) like you were advocating. I do see how wise you are with (at least most) of your advice, though. I'm just not in a place right now when I can truly stop and savor it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This book was so insightful and thought-provoking. It appears as if it would be a short read, but once you get into it you can't help but go slow and really think through each statement made. It felt more like having a conversation with the author rather than reading a book. There were many times I had to stop and write down a good quote, or my thoughts on a particular line. I can definitely see myself reading this one again. I really enjoyed Time and the Art of Living. This book was so insightful and thought-provoking. It appears as if it would be a short read, but once you get into it you can't help but go slow and really think through each statement made. It felt more like having a conversation with the author rather than reading a book. There were many times I had to stop and write down a good quote, or my thoughts on a particular line. I can definitely see myself reading this one again. I really enjoyed Time and the Art of Living.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thought-provoking look at time and its relative nature. Many people (myself included) tend to divide time into past, present, and future. Grudin reminds us that they are not discrete; the present and future affect how we see the past, and thoughts of the future affect us in the present.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    This is a good book covering a variety of topics related to time. The beast are on growth and ageing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    Hard to categorize but very thought-provoking.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    A great reading and thinking experience!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I can say this is the book I have devoted the most TIME to reading completely, having purchased it from the campus neighborhood bookstore in St. Paul approximately 30 years go (loved the cover art on my edition and was looking for a philosophical escape). I started into it a few times, being soothed for a bit, but becoming too full of thought, I guess, after the first few pages, to continue. I picked it up again, a couple times, and then finally, with resolve, a few years ago, and have just now I can say this is the book I have devoted the most TIME to reading completely, having purchased it from the campus neighborhood bookstore in St. Paul approximately 30 years go (loved the cover art on my edition and was looking for a philosophical escape). I started into it a few times, being soothed for a bit, but becoming too full of thought, I guess, after the first few pages, to continue. I picked it up again, a couple times, and then finally, with resolve, a few years ago, and have just now completed it, a minor milestone kind of achievement in my life, you might say. It didn't take me so long because it was a bad read. What it is, is 13 thematic chapters of individual paragraphs built around the specific aspect of 'time' chosen to be that chapter's subject. Each paragraph is a more or less profound and precisely worded complex thought about how people in our society conceive of and use or misuse time in their daily lives. Each eloquently constructed paragraph requires an awake, alert mind to chew up and the time equivalence of a post-steak dinner to digest. Self-indulgently academic intellectual fantasy? Yes, undoubtedly some of that. There is also careful, deep thought, elucidating precisely a full range of everyday experiences of seemingly every facet of our experience of time that can serve as a reference for living or at least a way to sink one's consciousness into our experience of 'time,' - how we use it, what it says about our attitudes and beliefs, and how we might approach our use of time more consciously to feel happier and more satisfied. This is a book you can't read just to get to the end! Often, I found myself contrasting the author's valuing of certain mindsets - the self extended over time, to use one example - with those of Buddhist philosophies I have also read about in and experienced using meditation apps. While seeming to oppose each other in their view and value of permanence and also in the proper attitude toward time as one makes their way through life, I could not find fault with the author's approach, and it seemed almost to lead to the same place regardless, which seems to be a kind of Buddhist idea itself. Anyway, enjoy the read and give yourself plenty of time to savor Grudin's Time and the Art of Living.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    "Time and the Art of Living" is a marvelous book. Grudin's book contains hundreds of little paragraphs full of musings and thoughts on time; what time means for us and what is should mean for us. He analyzes time from various angles: how time relates to love, politics, age, morality and everything else important in our lives. He shows us how we are deceived by our subjective perception of time and held hostage by it. This book is so rich and thought provoking, you have to read it slowly. You nee "Time and the Art of Living" is a marvelous book. Grudin's book contains hundreds of little paragraphs full of musings and thoughts on time; what time means for us and what is should mean for us. He analyzes time from various angles: how time relates to love, politics, age, morality and everything else important in our lives. He shows us how we are deceived by our subjective perception of time and held hostage by it. This book is so rich and thought provoking, you have to read it slowly. You need to take breaks to contemplate its meaning. Take a pen and mark the important messages for you, of which there will be many. In my recently published career guide for people facing job loss, "The Gift of Job Loss", I recommend Grudin's book as an absolute must-read. Time is our most precious asset in life. We don't know how much we will have of it before we pass on. Grudin helps you and me optimize our time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    This book surprised me. I didn't actually intend to read it. It appeared identical to innumerable unfocused feel-good books that one might find in the self-help or spirituality sections. I picked it up in a spare minute when I saw it on my parents bookshelf, and it hooked me. It's written as a series of loosely connected observations that cumulatively build a set of metaphors for thinking about living and experiencing oneself through time. The observations are insightful and very carefully and ti This book surprised me. I didn't actually intend to read it. It appeared identical to innumerable unfocused feel-good books that one might find in the self-help or spirituality sections. I picked it up in a spare minute when I saw it on my parents bookshelf, and it hooked me. It's written as a series of loosely connected observations that cumulatively build a set of metaphors for thinking about living and experiencing oneself through time. The observations are insightful and very carefully and tightly interpreted within a well-articulated general framework. I highly recommend it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    "Time and the Art of Living" was originally published in 1982, and has been in my life since 1992. In that time I have purchased perhaps a dozen copies as gifts for family and friends. I featured it in TheScreamOnline, and I am eternally grateful to Robert Grudin for his kind permission to reprint some of the many gems in this most remarkable book for all ages, for all time. https://thescreamonline.com/robert-gr... "Time and the Art of Living" was originally published in 1982, and has been in my life since 1992. In that time I have purchased perhaps a dozen copies as gifts for family and friends. I featured it in TheScreamOnline, and I am eternally grateful to Robert Grudin for his kind permission to reprint some of the many gems in this most remarkable book for all ages, for all time. https://thescreamonline.com/robert-gr...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    Found this in a small used book shop in Niagara Falls. Definitely a diamond in the rough. Has some excellent lessons like the 'tyranny of the future' how we prepare, prepare, for things that may never happen and all the time the keys to the 'good life' are all within us (like love, and will power). Great moral to this book. Found this in a small used book shop in Niagara Falls. Definitely a diamond in the rough. Has some excellent lessons like the 'tyranny of the future' how we prepare, prepare, for things that may never happen and all the time the keys to the 'good life' are all within us (like love, and will power). Great moral to this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Veek

    Read it front to back the first time, to enjoy some fundamental philosophies of time, our consensual construct, and how we exist within it. Find yourself looking to it as a reference full of quotables. Take time to read it again a few years later, by opening it at random perhaps.

  20. 4 out of 5

    NJ

    This is an abstract masterpiece.. I feel like it's a priceless secret of a book only few people discover. I wish I could write something like this someday. It is one of the books I can reread over and over again, and gain insight from each and everytime. This is an abstract masterpiece.. I feel like it's a priceless secret of a book only few people discover. I wish I could write something like this someday. It is one of the books I can reread over and over again, and gain insight from each and everytime.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Good for helping expand one's sense of time. Although glossing over the historical section is, imho, okay. This book has some wonderful and shockingly obvious insights. It works in packed vignettes and philosophical snippets. A prescription for anyone in a funk or crisis. Good for helping expand one's sense of time. Although glossing over the historical section is, imho, okay. This book has some wonderful and shockingly obvious insights. It works in packed vignettes and philosophical snippets. A prescription for anyone in a funk or crisis.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    A good guide to learning how to extract more value out of the only truly-limited resource that we have -- our time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    I love books that share little compact morsels of wisdom. This book is something I go back to again and again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

    Re-read every six months.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Can be read multiple times

  26. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    one of those books picked up off the clearance shelves which turned out to be a gem. it's a book of paragraphs and proverbs that realigns our minds to a more proper interaction with time. one of those books picked up off the clearance shelves which turned out to be a gem. it's a book of paragraphs and proverbs that realigns our minds to a more proper interaction with time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Norman

    One of the best books I have ever read about doing nothing wisely.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robbie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angie

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