Saturday, December 23, 2006

Brother, Can You Spare the Time?

This post is to simply state the obvious: there isn't enough time in this life. I wished to bewail and bemoan the fact that all I want to do and accomplish must be lived out within this reality that is constrained by time. The best definition of time I've ever heard is attributed to Einstein: "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."

But it isn't my goal to be philosophical here or to rant about dropping out. The holiday season is difficult for me. I am not against the holidays and I will admit to the occasional warm feeling within, but there is more jeer than cheer inside my heart, I must admit. I detest shopping to begin with, but holiday shopping mutates that already odious chore into a casting call for "Survivor" (no, I don't watch it, but the image seemd to make sense in this sentence). My normal routine is time-challenged these days. I'm sure others have it worse, but I've been feeling the pinch lately. Work needed attention before I took some time off for the holidays. My family situation makes visits geographically and emotionally challenging. I really just want to close the door, lay under the covers and hold out until January 2nd. But I don't live in a vacuum and I need to get over myself, so I do my best to pitch in and try to make this a happy time for everyone. I do wonder how much easier this would be if my life were more simple? Maybe it would be worse? If I didn't have a car I wouldn't be able to see my family as easily. Even though Jesus' birth was purportedly in a place many in our circle would approve, the modern celebration is more about large homes filled with people and things and massive expectations. Mary just wanted a place to lay down. How far we've come!

The next few days are the worst. I am lucky that most of my driving is relatively close to the relatively few relatives to whom I must relate. I clocked in about 120 miles today. That is fine. Tomorrow is better because I will be hosting. The day after is not too bad either: just a short drive. The hard part will be making that small-talk I detest for hours among 40 or so family members. I love them all, but I'm just not so good in these situations any more. Again, I'll do what I must. I can schmooze with the best of them, but it takes a lot more energy to do so.

This time of year whips up thoughts of changes that need to be made and methods that should be altered. All this holiday activity eats into the energy and time that I so dearly covet. Then I think of all the things we are told we should do and I cringe. How does anyone do it? I'm fortunate compared to many regarding my work commute and hours and such. Many I know either work multiple jobs or make a two hour commute each way. How can there be any energy left for life and loved ones, let alone leisure? When you add up all the things you must do the list is staggering. Add to that the things you feel you should do and you simply want to quit. No wonder so many dream of dropping out.

There is so much I want to do. There is so much that interests me. There is so much the needs to be done. Time doesn't just prevent everything from happening at once, it prevents us from being the one doing it. We only have so much of the stuff and we must treat it with great care. What do you wish you had time to do? How do you make more time? Are there times when you spend money rather than time?

Why are there so many things we are told we should do each day? Meditate, exercise, talk to our children, get involved in your children's schoolwork, volunteer in your community, cook things from scratch, comparison shop, slow down, learn a language, keep up your property, read more, keep up on current events, study the politics of your local area, learn about the world, improve your job skills, write a letter, keep a journal, pray, learn to use a computer, turn off your computer, make time for yourself, learn to be less selfish...

I'll squeeze that all in after my normal day.

I enjoy my time on the computer because it is quiet and it demands little of me. It lets me talk and think without having to intrude an anyone else if they don't have the time. It informs me and entertains. It helps me unwind and it inspires me. It is ready to go when I am ready to go. It doesn't get offended if I don't want to talk. Some of that sounds selfish when I type it out. It is all true, though. I've learned so much in front of this digital diversion. I hope to learn more. I've especially learned how fleeting and precious time can be.

There is so much I want to say. There is so little time to say what I want to say. Perhaps that is a good thing? Yeah, I think so.


Anonymous Don said...

The posting brought up several good issues so the responses will be crammed into this posting.

Time is a real issue but in the end we all have the same amount of time. It becomes an issue of how we use that time. Do we waste it is such silly things as church or broadcast sports or do we use it in learning and doing? Being human we are open to all sorts of time killers, distractions, depression, and so on. So, how to use the time that each and everyone of us has? I like o read so I mostly read non fiction, over the last week I have completed Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion", Karen Armstrong's "A history of God", Larry McMurtry "Oh What a Slaughter", and I am currently working on a history of the Ridge Route between Los Angles to Bakersfield and studying for the FCC Extra Class Exam.

I like to build things but I had a problem with a toe last week so I spent it reading. I like to travel but this winter I am parked but that will change in a couple of weeks as I head for Quartzite. I do have a tendency to try to cram too much into the time available but I have had to learn just to go along and not worry so much about what is not getting done and enjoy what I am doing.

The season is another. I am tired of the whole thing and try to avoid as much as possible. I do not believe in any of the silly mythology that has sprung up around the whole birth thing. Religion is bunk and a complete waste of time and mental energy. I do not use the common cuss words as most are derived from the group think version of religion so are completely meaningless. I am trying to get that way over the xmas season. There is no god so get over it.

Socializing is not something I do well and small talk completely escapes me. Most people are so shallow as to be a complete waste of time. I do not watch TV and could care less about the latest celebrity drunk driving charge, I would much rather have a conversation where I learn something important from the other person and they are learning something from me.

December 24, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

I forgot most of Christmas. Cut down a silly little bush out in the pasture to honor Charlie Brown, got the Batmobile and action figures for my 5 yearold, secondhand I Can Read books etc. The wife got a tape measurer of her own (she got me a spatula).

Ooops, silly me. Forgot about my brother, sisters, nephews, neices mother, etc. They expect it 'cause it is finally soaking in that I'm serious when I say I don't want anything for Christmas. It has taken years. If anyone has a resentmnet at least it isn't me.

Popped in at Wal-Mart last night for some coffee and milk and stuff, took one look at the 20 cart deep lines at the 20 open registers and asked a lady one cart away from checkout how long she had been standing there. 45 minutes... 400 people gonna spend 45 minutes of their life to buy crap. I left and got what could have waited a couple of days anyway at a grocery store that was deserted at 10pm.

At some point an individual says "I'm disgusted as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." I gets easier after the first time, but ya gotta have a first time.
Ho Ho Ho,

December 24, 2006 11:17 AM  
Blogger Theo_musher said...

I really like your graphics. I know that is not a real "deep" comment but I just wanted to say that.

Merry Christmas.

BTW, my numerology tells me from age 35 to 47 or somthing I need to focus on being really good at one thing. I need to develop "depth" of experience as opposed to "breadth" and I need to balance freedom and discipline.

I have lots and lots of interests too and I feel like I could live several lifetimes exploring all the different things, but I need to narrow it down.

Hey I guess my comment was a little meaty!


December 24, 2006 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm not big on people telling me what I HAVE to do or what I SHOULD do. Why would I want to waste my time doing things other people have decided for me. Who's the boss of me? Me, or some other schmuck?

I operate at a pace much slower than the average person. My nervous sytem is wired differently and I get overwhelmed with stimulation that average people would be OK with. So, I take a couple days to do what someone else does in a day. I've learned to live with it.

And Theo, some people are wired for depth, and some people are wired for breadth. Check out Barbara Sher's _I Could Do Anything I Wanted if I Just Knew What It Was_ (I think that's the title). There's nothing wrong with being wired for breadth. I'm a renaissance woman, and frankly, people who are wired for depth don't interest me, because they can't really converse intelligently on any other topic than their pet interest. Boring! Just be who you are. If you like to learn a little bit about everything, then go right ahead.

December 24, 2006 10:25 PM  
Blogger Frank Black said...


Yes, time is finite, but the means by which we use it are infinite. You simply wouldn't believe me if I told you how much busier I was a few years back. I did much of what I do now, but had another full-time job, did a lot more music and worked more overtime to boot. In all that I kept up with my other interests. I've since scaled back a great deal. The hard part of cutting back on the time is understanding that our time is intertwined with the time of others. Part of my struggle is respecting the needs of those I love (and even those I don't love) and respecting myself. The process that unfolds from discovery and understanding of the issue to actually implementing the solutions can be lengthy. We are often tempted to try and hasten that process, but that may lose something unforseen. I do like to socialize, but I need a lot of down time, so I find myself struggling with that.


Again, so much of this is new to me. The sudden shift in lifestyle would cause the psychological parallel to "the bends." I am lucky in that my wife is on board with this. We are taking our time and slowly moving in a positive direction. Over the last years we've cut back to one gift for each of us and donations to a charity. Other members of the family are slowly being weaned off of gifts.

Yes, we all remember our first time, eh? ;)


Thanks for the kind words about the images. I have no idea why I even started with them. It just happened. Now it is just part of the deal. It can be a pain in the ass (like the one you will see for my Christmas post), but it is also a creative outlet that is beyond the norm for me, so I enjoy it.

As for being less a generalist and more a specialist, I don't know if that is good or bad. Like Marcy, I am a renaissance person. My graduate degree is in Liberal Arts only because I feel the need to know something about everything. I have friends who are experts in many things, but I feel it is more rewarding to know something about many things. To each their own.


I am with you on being a Jack(ie) of all trades, master of none. I feel more human by knowing many things in a small way. It gives one a larger well of knowledge from which to draw.

I am consciously trying to slow the pace of my life. The only way to do that is to reduce obligation. Some obligations I can control, others I cannot. But I see light at the end of the tunnel (and I don't hear a whistle).

December 24, 2006 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Tess said...

Hi. I think I found your blog via Ran's. I am one of those middle-aged middle-class white people with guilt and a 'good job' who finds herself on an arduous climb towards dropping out, and wonders with every step whether she should just give up and 'get with the program' that is civilisation. It feels selfish and ungrateful to drop out, and evil to benefit from civilisation. I am afraid that dropping out is another middle class conceit. Fortunately, everything I do seems to be a middle class conceit, so I may as well pursue what seems right.

Your blog is a delight to read. You ramble well, and just about get to the point on time. I look forward to reading about your progress.

December 31, 2006 7:16 PM  

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