This I Believe

Jennifer - Glassboro, New Jersey
Entered on April 30, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: carpe diem

I Believe That Wasting Time is OK, Inevitable, and Human

I believe a certain amount of wasted time is forgivable and human. I’ve decided it has to be, since a considerable chunk of my life is, by necessity, spent involved in activities that are tedious and forgettable. I know I should “seize the day” when I can, but I also know that not every day is seize-able.

I believe the average life has countless “filler” days, in which awareness of the beauty and fleeting nature of life is not fully realized or maximized. This is no one’s fault. I spend many days succumbing to the hypnosis of computer screens, navigating the soulless telephone prompts of credit card companies, and watching bad T.V. These days are O.K, but I’ve always told myself they’re not OK, because movies and books and TV tend to strip away the mundane aspects of life. In movies and books, only the high and low points are shown. But literature lies. Sometimes you just have to stand in line at the DMV. Sometimes everything meaningful is suspended while you wait.

When I was younger, I spent four years in a bad relationship that probably didn’t even teach me any valuable life lessons. When I emerged from this relationship at age 29, I tormented myself for wasting precious time with wrong person. This seems like a very funny and self-important belief now. Yes, I wasted a few years. I’m sure they weren’t wasted entirely. Would things really be that different if I had maximized those years with my soulmate? Maybe. But things are still OK now.

Time is a funny thing…it’s something everyone wants to conserve like a precious mineral, and also squander like a free pack of matches while it’s boring. Last summer, I overheard two co-workers lamenting how quickly the summer was flying.

“It just goes faster every year,” one woman said. “I can’t believe it’s August.”

“Yes, I know,” her friend replied. “We’re going to the shore weekend. I wish Friday would hurry up and get here.”

“Tell me about it,” the first agreed.

I chuckled at their paradox. They simultaneously wanted to make the summer last, and the workweek fly. They were TGIF-ing their way straight toward Labor Day. I do the same thing. I don’t want to waste time, but I love to kill time.

It’s all right, though. I just remind myself that I didn’t invent time, I’m at the mercy of it. So if I don’t always manage to conquer time, like I don‘t always manage to conquer nature, well, that’s all to be expected. I try to find at least one memorable detail in even the most lackluster day. Sometimes I manage that, sometimes I don‘t. I can only do my best.

As a last resort, I look to my cats for solace. They waste 2/3 of their lives sleeping, and their lives are much shorter than mine. But they don’t seem to lose any sleep over that.