Turn Every Minute Into An Age

“I would turn every minute into an age, nothing would be wasted, every minute would be accounted for.” -Prince Pushkin in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, The Idiot

In the above passage, the character, Prince Pushkin, faces death at the scaffold, and wonders what he’d do if he had another chance to live. It was actually inspired by a real-life incident in 1849 in which the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky was sentenced to death for allegedly engaging in anti-government activities inside a radical intellectual circle, named the Petrashevsky Circle. (Members also included Hegel, Kant, and Marx.)

Sentenced to death by firing squad, Dostoevsky and others were lined up and tied to the posts. Guns were raised. Everyone awaited the command to fire…

…But the command never came.

Turns out the Tsar had written an order of reprieve beforehand, and wanted it delivered at the last possible second so as to make a spectacle of the “conspirators.”

Getting a second chance on life, Dostoevsky vowed from then on, to make every minute count.

His death sentence was downgraded to four years in a Siberian work camp. He served those years, and when they were done, Dostoevsky wrote all five of what are now considered his major works and some of the greatest novels of all time: Notes From the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons, and Brothers Karamazov.

Today and everyday going forward, turn every minute into an age.

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