It is downright troubling to me, even annoying, how fast time goes by. I think it is a prime driver of midlife ‘crises’ – the awareness and subsequent knee jerk response to this felt phenomenon. I call it knee jerk, but perhaps it really isn’t. The fact is that life is blowing by and if we are frittering it away on things we don’t find all that satisfying or important, then we’d better do something rather radical.
I tell my students from time-to-time, ‘You don’t have to do anything to get older, it just happens.’ You can just get up every day, do the drill and you soon learn that each day is consumed with or by something. You don’t have to do anything special to consume the day. It will somehow be filled.
It’s as if there is a standing list of cosmic ‘stuff’ out there in the universe just waiting for some unaware soul to do it. And since many of us seem to have at least some discretionary space in our days, we fall victim to such meaningful activities as checking Facebook, our cell phone, or emails umpteen times a day, as if there was some impending, eternally consequential nugget going to pop up there at any minute. Then, add television and the computer and there is not a minute of life left to fill. The net result is that days go by with mindboggling speed and we often can’t really explain how we consumed it all, and so effortlessly.
It reminds me of a principle I learned of some years ago called Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” According to my web authority, Wikipedia, Parkinson apparently wrote this in 1955 as a tongue-in-cheek explanation for the growth of bureaucracy in the British civil service. It has since morphed into a host of variations and applications.
The point, of course, is that it adds some insight into what happens to the time we have in any given day; but it also reveals how easy it is to consume a life in the process. That’s what is so troubling about it. It isn’t as if I set out to waste so much of a given day, it happens without me intending anything. In fact, that is the very issue – because I do not specifically ‘intend’ a day, it just goes its own way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a list guy, and I have my task list for any given day. But, in reflection, I see sooo much waste in most any given day and am irritated about it. I’m most irritated this time of year as I see another year concluding and the calendar will soon switch over to a new one. Then, I again will reflect on the year ahead of me and resolve to use it better than the previous one, only to come to the end of it with more than a tinge of disappointment as to what was accomplished.
I think this feeling is magnified by my own impatience with the speed with which my goals are being accomplished. It seems nothing is happening fast enough for me at this stage.
I put on my “must read” list each year (and am convinced I should do it more often) a book that really stirred me up about this matter of inefficient use of this stewardship called life. What stirred me up even more was the fact that the guy who wrote the book with such insight was in his TWENTIES!!! Get the book if you want an annual boot in the rear from a youngish whipper-snapper. Gads! Makes me wonder where I’ve been my whole life. Anyhow, it’s called The Four-Hour Workweek by Ferris (Book details and link are to the right side of this blog).
At this point, I’m guessing it’s not too early to be thinking about next year. The realization is upon me that this year is about over and I need to start reflecting on what I’m doing and want to be doing next year. I’m not getting any younger. Then again, if I do nothing I’ll get older anyhow.
About the Author: Master Hobbit