Time Wasting

The Sound of Time Wasting

Consider the drive from Seattle to San Francisco. If done at a good pace without pushing oneself, the trip can take a good two working days, including meals, rest stops and an overnight stay. It certainly can seem like wasted time with that many hours spent on the open road. Yet it was incredibly relaxing to allow the mind to go numb for two straight days; to have the eyes fixated on nothing but the horizon off in the distance; to meander through miles of mountainous highway and forests of alpine trees. While at a rest stop near Mount Shasta, I realized that there had not been a need for a single coherent thought for over 24 hours. Luxury.

Perhaps it is the moving of boulders. A friend and I do periodic upkeep of a Frisbee golf course. Since it is deep in a wooded area, we find ourselves doing mundane tasks of clearing trails or moving fallen logs. We also end up creating more work for ourselves than necessary, such as when we decided to delineate some of the tee pads with boulders. Armed with a wheelbarrow, a pickaxe and a shovel, we pushed, pulled, rolled and heaved several rocks nearly 150 pounds apiece to their final resting places. After digging some trenches and burying half the rock into the ground, we congratulated ourselves for the completion of three new areas for launch. That evening, I slept far more soundly and deeply than any other night in recent memory. Bliss.

Or is it the triviality of silly games? BBC Radio 4 features several light-hearted programs where the enjoyment comes from the gentle breeze of time passing rather than intense intellectual stimulus. Shows, such as Just a Minute, where the object is to speak for sixty seconds on any subject without hesitation, deviation or repetition may sound simple, but hilarity ensues when one tries to do it. Others, like I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue, are merely a string of mindless feats, like Singing One Song to the Tune of Another. They are simple in their setting, difficult in their execution, amusing to listen to when done poorly, and exciting to hear when done properly. Joy.

Sitting very still in a field for several hours may qualify too. It doesn’t matter whether the purpose is to stare at a picturesque stump in the middle of a pond on a breezy afternoon or to sit outside of a barn while enjoying the music from the Olympic Chamber Music Festival. In both of these situations, one just soaks in the surrounding – a feast of colors for the eyes or a kaleidoscope of sounds for the ears. In both situations, stresses just melt into the ground and the inertia to get up and leave is immense. Peace.

But it might be the running around from one coffee meeting to another on one’s own time. It might be the choice of working late nights or early mornings or both, when necessary. It might be the frequent socialization and networking to stay on top of industry news. It might be the speaking at industry events to advance a solution or the creation of partnerships that streamline business processes. It might be the ability to work remotely. Liberty.

Which one(s) is it? Perhaps we will never know.

S.J. Russell

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