Friday, December 3, 2010

That Kind of Time

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Okay, so we might as well stick with the "time" theme this week. You know what I am sick of? People who say "Man, I wish I had that kind of time on my hands" to people who do things like, oh, I don't know -- maintain blogs, carve pumpkins, make art or pursue anything outside of the mundane chores both required by everyday life and created in order to give its drudgery an illusion of purpose.

These gloriously busy, condescendingly grown-up people are usually the same ones who love to brag about never being able to sit still. "Oh, I am not a sit-around kind of person. I have to be doing something." So, I guess I am supposed to clap. Bravo(a). You don't like to sit around. You're in the fray. A suburban warrior. Woot.

With the proper accolades graciously and sincerely distributed, I would now like to point out two things about myself:

1) I love to sit around doing nothing.

2) I don't have "that kind of time" on my hands -- I manufacture the time because I feel my life needs to be more than chores and inane obligations strung together to make it feel like I accomplished something at the end of the day.

For instance, here is my yesterday: Woke up at 6; worked from 7-4; came home and made dinner for the kids who could not have been expected to fully grasp the culinary wonder of the Asian delight of a dish my wife had prestidigitated in to existence for us; had a cup of coffee with her after dinner and said goodbye as she left for work in the ER 5:30; helped the kids with homework until 6:30; reviewed report cards with them; cleaned the kitchen; took out the trash, taking down corn stalks and throwing out softening, residual pumpkins, all in complete darkness; got down the Christmas decorations that reside in boxes about an eighth of an inch thinner than the opening of the attic (which, if you are measuring, is not enough room for my knuckles) and that weigh approximately one-hundred and seventy pounds each; helped the kids with baths (at which point it was around 7:15); played Zingo (click: "Puppy, no. Star, yes!) with my younger son while my older son played a baseball video game and prattled on about his growing knowledge of the history of major league baseball ("Did you know they moved Mike Schmidt to first base?" -- I did.); took them up to tooth-brushing and bed time maneuvers; counseled my -- of late -- teary-eyed boy about the necessity for school and the virtues of optimism in the face of impending academic gloom; practiced guitar (Sagreras is killing me this week) from 8:00 to 9; straightened up downstairs until 9:30; picked out clothing for the next day; climbed into bed with a great Jack Finney book (Time and Again), read three pages and passed out.

A pretty typical day for me. "But when," you ask, "Do you find time to produce four blog pieces per week? When did you find time to write two (still unpublished) novels? How is it that you are weeks away from completing a CD of your own songs and performances?"

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How? When? I create in the moments I steal for myself. A blog post cranked out while my students are taking an essay test (can't cheat on those); headphones and illogically late nights at the digital piano; "composing" in my head in the car. It is all the result of a total refusal to allow a dearth of free time to get in the way of my work -- the work that really fulfills me.

So, in the end, I wish I had "that kind of time," too. And if someone's version of "real life" is packing the day with hedge-grooming, car-washing and other non-essential real-life tasks, fine. If they can't enjoy lying on the living room couch and just being still, I don't really admire them for their "get-up-and-go" the way they seem to want me to -- I genuinely pity them.

I have no time, yet I find some. And I love doing nothing when I can. Love it. (In fact, I do my best work when I am doing nothing.)


  1. Don't worry about people's thoughtless comments. How many people have also said to you, "Oh, I've thought about writing (implied: masterpiece) when I get a chance". I have a love/hate relationship with time myself. I love to be busy when I'm in the flow of it, but I also envy those Jane Austen heroines who have nothing more pressing to do than take a walk to Meryton all day. Catherine

  2. Quite true, Catherine. Shall we away to Meryton together, this afternoon? I'll pack some cucumber sandwiches . . . Oh. Wait. Have to work. Damn.

  3. My other favorite line is, "You have too much time on your hands."
    Goes right up my proverbial @ss.