Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wasted time

Late at night, long after the daily television program goes to bed, and nocturnal people such as myself should have done the same; most channels will usually fill the wee hours with either some musty soft porn, reruns, a classical concert or –– my favourite guilty pleasure –– a string of infomercials. I am not quite certain why I (like to) feast on them. It is not like I ever buy anything. I do not own a garden for that highly-efficient, easy-to-maneuver lawn mower 3000. I do not have to feed five people in my household in order for that multi-functional, labor-saving instant pot to be worth the purchase. I am still working on my six-pack –– granted that I have made the experience that getting (and eventually keeping) one requires much more than a only-in-a-few-weeks, practically-no-effort-needed machine. Given the fact that I can spend hours on end watching, all things considered, my fascination with infomercials is completely disproportional to how little I buy. Notwithstanding, like a fly, I have positive phototaxis –– glued to their blinking appeal as soon as they appear on the small screen.

The Netflix era downsized my consumption of infomercials, although I still happily get sight of them on the occasional lazy Sunday morning. Now you must be wondering, if I am not interested in acquiring something, more importantly, I am not one that is easily convinced (always well aware that the extra discounted offer only stands if I call in the next 90 seconds); then why would I invest so many nights or mornings on USPs being repeated nth times? Why do I not change the channel, better yet, do something productive, lucrative, important instead? Many wonder, is it not a waste of time? Admittedly, you would say that getting a kick out of it could be the perfume of procrastination or rather, the fair manifestation of idle behaviour; however, I never succumbed to that reasoning. Long have I thought this through, only to come to the conclusion that I simply enjoy this slot of the day tremendously; therefore making it in turn, valuable to me. Advertorials are light-hearted, stimulating and entertaining. Why must I feel bad –– even ashamed? Then I recalled, as Bertrand Russell underlines quite well, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” 

Of course, we will distinguish between appreciating wasted time and actually wasting it –– and abhor it. To the point of cringing. The apprehension is universal: I could have studied earlier instead of delaying the inevitable, I let that relationship ruin my youthI should have set some money aside from the beginning, hell, why did I not quit that job, that guy, that place long ago? Naturally, the assessment of having lost precious, valuable moments generally comes after all has been said and done already. In hindsight. We have all felt this contempt in one, or a few, situations. For wasted days, months or even years mean loss. Result in regret. And acknowledging –– accepting the impossibility to turn back the clock. The bizarre thing is that once we get older, the fear of wasting time turns its head to the future from the onset. In anticipation. More cautious, definitely less carefree, plagued –– rather, driven by past choices and decisions; we grow so prudent, almost too prudent, on how we want to spend the rest of our lives. In other words, wisely. Thus becoming, for instance, reluctant to open up to a new person even before it has the opportunity to blossom. If there seems to be no prospect or beneficial outcome (not the one we desire, at least), is it worth trying? Or we will only change jobs when we have the certainty that the next one will be more fruitful. Yet, can we ever be sure? The older we get, the less and less it becomes about taking enough chances, but choosing the right ones. Are we living our best life yet?

During the summer, I had an eye-opening conversation with a longtime friend about the younger days. He confessed how he wished he wasted less time when he had more of it.  Nowadays, responsibilities, projects and future aspirations fill in the gaps which, undoubtedly, give life more purpose; but my pal truly believed that he could have started with the meaningful much earlier. His comment sent my mind back to my odd interest in infomercials. I suppose, in a way, society's standards define what is considered worthwhileour twenties should be spent doing this, we should have achieved that by the age of thirty-five, the bucket list must be about 3/4 done at this stage... However, let us imagine that it were not the case –– and perhaps it never will come to that –– does that imply that we did not use our (younger) years the correct way? My friend identified my smirk. Maybe, I responded, maybe wasting time is part of it –– better yet, perhaps it is even the best part; because without the concept of the clock ruling our lives, as it does today, we had the world at our feet, I paused, don't we still?  

We can all agree that time has the highest currency. Nevertheless, I reckon many of us should stop dealing with it as if it were possible to earn, save or invest in it as if it were actual income –– time is really the one thing that we have to exhaustWiselyby all means, but profusely. Let us make the best of our potential; nonetheless, we will not undermine the value of the times we waste they model us too, those we abhor, especially those we enjoy, especially when we are aware that we enjoyed them. I am not pushing for a free pass to procrastinate, wallow in lazy behaviour –– or justify bad decisions; but matter of fact is that foolish days, months and years do not make our stories less worthy.

Enjoy. The highs. The lowest of the lows. Enjoy the night. The confusion. That view from the top. The in-betweens. Enjoy that afternoon on the sofa. Enjoy the detours. Enjoy it all. Every now and then, I smile at the glimpse of playing children, who I know, are unreservedly oblivious to the notion of the clock; and I am sure, are the only ones who are truthfully capable of taking each day as it comes. Because the past is still too young to dwell on and the idea of a future is not in the slightest comprehensible (despite the fact that teachers already inquire what they want to become when they grow up.) The second we get conscious about ageing and limitations is the point of no return; where we put a price tag on our being i.e timeline — and it is hard not to act accordingly. Then again, this statement, in fact,  is why we should act accordingly. We cannot control time, but it should not control us either. Enjoy. I hope you enjoy it all, because we can not ever regret people if, at one point, they made us laugh and smile. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves when we do not have things figured out –– or even live all our years figuring them out –– I both grapple and embrace that fundamentally, who we are supposed to be is who we are right now. The masterpiece is living as a work in progress. Most importantly, we shall not let the dread of making yet another mistake steer the way we lead our lives. Take that chance –– and if it was the wrong one, take another one. In the end, a life of purpose is the life we enjoy(ed), because it will not come down to the story that we want to tell – but the one we do tell. Time may indeed have the highest currency in the world, but we alone define its value.