Wasting Time Well


Time is an equal opportunity employer.
Each human being has exactly the same
number of hours and minutes every day.
Rich people can’t buy more hours.
Scientists can’t invent new minutes.
And you can’t save time
to spend it on another day.
Denis Waitley

Until recently losing track of time was mostly restricted to great moments of a vacation, being totally engrossed in a good conversation or activity, being stunned by beauty or becoming caught up in the rapture of love. In those instances my awareness of the day and/or hour was fleeting and lasted for no more than seconds and minutes.

The fact that I lose track of time more now in semi-retirement is a wonderful thing. What’s meaningful is the experience of being so absorbed and so immersed is no longer restricted to “doing”. With increasing regularity I find myself wasting time without much care about its passage. It feels like I have been freed from a prison where time was my jailer.

One of my newly founded beliefs of the last decade is modern wealth is more about time than money. It was not that long ago rushing from one endeavor to another, one meeting to the next one and seeing this person and then the next person occupied the majority of my awake time. For a long while being so involved in work gave me a sense of importance that today I don’t find significant.

Time goes faster the more hollow it is. Lives with no meaning go straight past you, like trains that don’t stop at your station. Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Today I am discovering time has only the amount of importance I place on it. My experience of being alive is better when I can stop having thoughts like “what should I be doing?”, “I should be working on ___” or “I’ve got to be productive”. Such things are all in my head and broken down to their essence are actually borderline crazy! My time is mine to spend any way I choose and if ‘wasting’ it feels best, then I will do just that.

I had the mistaken belief that value should be placed based on rarity. My finding concerning time is my value of it is now placed based on the quantity of it I have. It is my hope that I can become as proficient at wasting time well as I once was at being productively time conscious.

For the wealth of time life has brought me to, I am grateful. To realize wasting time well is a good thing brings a smile of happiness and peace.

Free time is the most expensive time you have,
because nobody pays for it but you.
But that also makes it the most valuable time you have,
as you alone stand to reap the profits from spending it wisely.
Jarod Kintz

Evaporates With Breakneck Speed

GW-in-my-hear EIDTI will find a way in my everyday life to slow the world down and take away some of the pressures – moments when the demands of making a living take too much away from making a life. I will give myself time to smile and relax. To show how much I care. To share my love. To say what’s in my heart and on my mind. To stop and reflect on my goals.

Don’t run through life so fast
that you forget not only where you’ve been
but also where you’re going.
Life is not a race,
but a journey to be savored
each step of the way
Nancye Sims

sands-of-timeToday’s finds me with gratitude for the little reminders life brings into my path. All I have to do is pay attention. The two reminders above come from a cool book (“Promises to Myself”) that came to me used complete with notes by the original owner that make it more meaningful. Eddie Cantor’s thought below popped up in an email sent by a friend.

I am grateful for the gentle prompts this morning to remember to live each day, even each moment, as completely as I possibly can. Life evaporates with breakneck speed.

Slow down and enjoy life.
It’s not only the scenery
you miss by going too fast –
you also miss the sense
of where you are going and why.
Eddie Cantor

One Step at a Time

rear-view-mirrorIn a backwards look it is relatively easy to see how my life moved from one point to another even thought back then forward momentum seemed to be straight into fog. Everything ahead was obscured and I gave little thought to what I was doing or how my actions were shaping my future life. In a way I was like the fish who did not know he lived in water, except my pond was a lake of dysfunctional behavior.

I was dripping in pain, loneliness and self-induced delusion when I wrote “Alone”. It’s interesting that a man wrote it but the feelings are those of a child begging to be loved echoing within.

I am alone now,
No one to talk to but myself.
All others have gone,
or else forsaken me long ago.
I look inward,
But only a hallow do I find,
Love inside,
But no one who wants it.
Why am I never good enough,
Why don’t I get loved more?
Why do those who say they care
Hurt me so much?
I cry alone…..

Over twenty years ago “Mistakes” was an partial and incomplete list of the mistakes I believed I had made to date.

I choose the wrong parents or else they choose me.
I grew up wanting love and getting little.
I give too much in my desire to be wanted and loved.
I married the wrong person.
I should have stayed single till much older.
I am too troubled to have a relationship with most people.
I am too good at my work and capable at little else.
I choose the wrong career.
I live in the wrong place.
I have driven away the love of my life.
I am sick because I did not take care of myself.
I managed money badly and had a car repossessed when young.
I was deceitful with women.
I have long loved someone outside marriage.
I have lied to have time with the one I love.
I have denied relations to my marriage partner because I love another.
I have stayed married.
I have a job I am good at but don’t like much.
I like more money than is healthy.
I am weak and need others for strength.
I need the one I love too much.
I express my love too openly to the one I love.
I should be stronger and more silent with love.
I stole a camera when I was 17.
I have not made a difference in this life.
I have been too self-centered.
I have expected too much of others.
I have been too selfish.
I have hurt others In business and messed up lives.
I failed the one I love.
I destroyed what the love of my life once felt for me.
I feel sorry for myself too much.
… Mistakes…
only a few of thousands…
oh, to have time to do it over again and right the wrongs…

These days I find myself wishing I had journaled or kept better notes of my thoughts and feelings of my 20s and 30s. However, am grateful for the random files I have found in the last few days that I wrote back in the early to mid 90’s. Seeing flashes of my old self mirrored through time illustrates how well recovery can work. “It works if you work it” is the saying often spoken at the end of 12 step meetings. As flimsy as that might initially sound to many, it’s true beyond what an uninvolved person can grasp. One step at a time, one day at a time: it works.

Happy trails to you,
until we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It’s the way you ride
the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.
From the song “Happy Trails” by Dale Evans

Passage of Time

Christmas-Gifts-Christmas-Globes-Fresh-New-Hd-Wallpaper EDIT--Every year people sharing exchanges about how quickly Christmas has arrived again is a common as leaves on the ground. And there’s plenty of talk about how fast another year has evaporated. At this point in my life, it feels kind of like a year has been shortened to last four months with a each one representing a full season. Twelve months ago in early December, 2011 I posted a piece about rapidly passing time. As I continue my “stay-cation’ and general laziness within the richness of time off, I share it again.

If I had a dollar for every time I have exchanged a thought recently with someone about how fast times passes there’d be at least an extra hundred bucks in my pocket!  The shared lamenting is often about how close Christmas already is or how fast it seems to have crept up on us.  Or there is consternation about the speed 2011 has evaporated with.  This morning the passage of time popped in my head as a good subject to do a free-form journey in words to aid me getting to a point just out of reach at this moment.

Clocks are a fascination of mine which led me to take apart my parents windup alarm clock with a screwdriver when I was four years old.  I literally wanted to see “what made it tick”.  While there was no visual explanation for me to find inside the clock about its “ticking”, I did get to marvel at all those little parts which would not go back together.  Even my parents had no luck reassembling it and little ole me got into big trouble for my curiosity.

Old clocks have been an interest for years and at one point I possessed twenty-one antique seven-day mechanical wall and mantle clocks.  Once upon a time on each Saturday approximately one hour was spent winding them all each week and setting the correct time.  In my home there was quite a symphony of bells at the top of every hour.  As the days went by each week the onslaught of chiming began about five minutes before the hour until about five past as the slow runners were late to ring and the clocks running fast rang early.  It was quite a chore when the daylight savings time change came each fall and all the clocks had to be set back an hour.  Mechanical clock hands can not be moved backwards so I had to move the hands forward and let the clock chime on every hour and half hour before getting back around to the correct time.

Our awareness of time is so acute today, but it was not always so.  In a favorite book “The Discoverers”, Daniel J. Boorstin points out mechanical clocks did not even exist until late in the 14th century and fairly accurate ones did not come along until a hundred years later.  The first people known to consistently measure time were the Egyptians who divided the day into two 12-hour time periods using a sort of sun-dial.  This method of dividing each day was picked up by other civilizations and became standardized in Latin:  “ante meridiem” (A.M.”before midday”) and “post meridiem” (P.M., “after midday”).  The Egyptians along with the Greeks and Chinese also developed water clocks which were followed by hourglasses.  Candle clocks were used in Japan, England and Iraq and something called a timestick was used in India, Tibet and parts of Europe.

For century’s most people were concerned with the passage of a day and but not about the passing of an hour and certainly not of something as small as a minute.  Beginning about five hundred years ago the first widely dispersed time pieces were town or church clocks which chimed one time on the hour.  Some of the earliest were in France and we get the word “clock” from the French word “cloche” which means bell.  For several hundred years a single chime noted the passing of an hour because almost every one was illiterate and could not count.  So our awareness of time (or is it obsession?) is a more modern affliction.

Being one of those with great curiosity who asks “why” a lot I began in childhood to drive adults crazy with inquisitiveness.  Clearly in memory is asking a 5th grade teacher why our number system was based on 10 and yet we use a system of 60 to tell time (60 seconds to a minute, etc).  She got frustrated I think because she did not know the answer and shooed me away, so I looked it up.  What I found was the practice is carried over from the ancient Sumerians who used a number system based around the number 60.  Even today some scientists and mathematicians will tell you a number system based on 60 is a more “logical” way to count and measure.

So now that I have bored you with a synopsized history lesson about time, it would be easy to ask “why”.  Essentially writing this piece was a sort of meditation on the passage of time.  The most important ‘ah-ha” has been conscious awareness of time actually seems to make it pass more quickly.  When I can lose myself in something, as I did in writing this, time becomes largely irrelevant.  At such moments I am only aware of what I doing.  So that is the take-away I will gratefully head into my day with.  The more engaged in life I am, the less awareness I have about the passing of time.  Less awareness equals a feeling of having more time.  And with that thought it is time to jump head first into my day.

Clocks slay time…
time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels;
only when the clock stops does time come to life.
William Faulkner

Courage To Start All Over Again

Mentally, time is something I’ve been conscious of all my life. My family of origin was filled with watch carrying or wristwatch wearing people who paid lots of attention to time. From my tenth year through the sixteenth, my mother and stepfather had a small grocery store open seven days a week. Our days back then revolved around what time the store opened and when it closed.

In rural Alabama where my roots are, even farm daylight is measured between waiting for sunrise and hurrying to beat sunset. My profession of decades has kept me focused on time by the minute, either filling it with music or an advertisement on radio stations. Today I wear a watch if I am out and tell time at home by a clock in every room. I even collect old clocks.

I have always been conscious of time’s coming and going, but in its measurement I have been focused on the passing of time rather than any particular moment I was within.

About the psychology of time awareness, J.W. Brown of the Department of Neurology at New York University Medical Center wrote: Each mind computes the measure of time passing and duration from the decay of the… present in relation to a core of past events …a Self in a state of becoming, a Self that travels in time like the crest of a wave, always in pursuit of a future just beyond the grasp of the present.

That’s heady stuff and describes where I used to be.

No longer will I live every minute beyond my present. My awareness shifted yesterday when I became aware of time; not just conscious of its horizontal passing but aware of the largeness of particular moments. With one full taste of the “now” I am changed. When I witnessed firsthand the height and depth of the present, time slowed for a little while. Heightened awareness of “now” made time bigger and last longer. I did not suddenly have more time, but what time I have has become larger.

Now I understand what it means to “be the master of one’s own time”. Even a few minutes each day of such clarity about ‘time’ gives new direction to my life. I am grateful for such insight. It is life changing.

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or,
in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be.
There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want.
You can change or stay the same,
there are no rules to this thing.
We can make the best or the worst of it.
I hope you make the best of it.
And I hope you see things that startle you.
I hope you feel things you never felt before.
I hope you meet people with a different point of view.
I hope you live a life you’re proud of.
If you find that you’re not,
I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
From “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by Eric Roth