Once In A Blue Moon

“All days are short to industry and long to idleness.” This English proverb encapsulates a profound truth about the perception of time based on one’s level of engagement and activity. It reflects the idea that when we are engrossed in productive and purposeful work, time seems to fly by, while in moments of idleness and inactivity, time appears to stretch out endlessly.

Understanding the Proverb:

At its core, this proverb emphasizes the stark contrast between two approaches to life: one driven by industriousness and the other by lethargy. When individuals are actively involved in tasks that capture their attention and demand their effort, they tend to become so absorbed in their work that they barely notice the passage of time. This phenomenon is often referred to as flow, a state where a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, complete involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Conversely, when someone is idle and unoccupied, they often find themselves constantly glancing at the clock, impatiently awaiting the end of the day. Time can seem to drag on, and moments can feel monotonously prolonged when there is no engagement or purposeful activity to fill them.

Examples in Conversation:

  1. Sarah: “I can’t believe it’s already evening! I’ve been working on this project all day.” John: “Time really does fly when you’re focused. You know what they say, all days are short to industry and long to idleness.”
  2. Mark: “I don’t understand how people complain about not having enough time. I’m always so busy.” Lisa: “That’s because you’re constantly engaged in various tasks. Remember, all days are short to industry and long to idleness.”
  3. Alex: “I dread weekends sometimes. I find myself so bored that the days seem to drag on forever.” Ella: “Maybe it’s a sign you should find something productive or enjoyable to do. You know the saying, all days are short to industry and long to idleness.”


The origin of this proverb is not definitively traced, but its sentiment is reflected in various cultures and languages throughout history. It draws from the fundamental human experience of how our perception of time is influenced by our level of engagement and activity.

One possible origin of this proverb could be rooted in the works of renowned English author Charles Dickens. In his novel “Hard Times,” Dickens explored the stark differences between individuals who embraced hard work and those who led idle and unproductive lives. While the exact wording of the proverb might not appear in his writings, the essence of the concept is present in his themes.

In conclusion, the proverb “All days are short to industry and long to idleness” serves as a reminder of the subjective nature of time. It encourages individuals to embrace industriousness and purposeful engagement to make the most of their days, as well as highlights the sense of fulfillment that comes with being absorbed in meaningful activities. Whether in conversation or contemplation, this proverb invites us to reflect on how we allocate our time and the impact it has on our perception of its passage.

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