“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”
- Bill Watterson
- Bill Watterson
This very sentence rolled off my tongue more than once as I described to family and friends how I would fill my time as I accompanied my husband to a CLE conference in Scottsdale, AZ. How delightful to find an actual quote (I thought I made it up myself) which had drawn such puzzled expressions from those I uttered it to.
What is “nothing” and how does one go about doing so much of it that they run out of time in its pursuit? Nothing, something, much, little, a boat load, mountains - all describe the amount of work and/or activities that we perceive to fill our time. To me, “nothing” does not mean laying on the couch or sleeping all day. However… it could. “Nothing” means doing exactly what I want to do without expectation, demand, or schedule and most likely it means doing what I want, when I feel like it…or not.
My husband laughed at me when I said I wasn’t sure if two days was long enough to do all the nothing I had in mind. He said I probably had a brief case full of projects to do during those two days. Okay, it is true, I brought a few things to do….but only if I feel like it and only if I decide to do them. To me, that is “nothing” and the best way that I know how to recharge my battery. Much of my days are spent doing what others have for me to do. This too, is my choice and I would not have it any other way. Yet in spite of that, I relish the time I can steal to do a narrow to wide variety of pure “nothingness.”
Time is an interesting notion if you think about it. Time is one of the few great equalizers since the world began. Every man, woman and child that has ever lived on this earth has had exactly the same amount of time each day. Kings, rulers, aristocrats, philosophers, professionals, students, farmers, etc. have exact equality. No favoritism or punishment is considered in the dispersal of time. Yet, we help ourselves to this equally portioned gift in a wide variety of ways.
In Greek philosophy there are two very different definitions of time. The first one is Chronos time. It is the structured time that we live in with minutes and seconds. This is the method of measuring time that we are most familiar with because it is chronological and man-made. Chronos is the fleeting time that we wrestle with every day in keeping with schedules or the painstakingly slow watching of the clock when we are uncomfortable or suffering.
Kairos time on the other hand is God’s time. It is outside of the typical frame of reference that we associate with time because it is metaphysical time. Kairos signifies time standing still or a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which intuition, understanding and magical “aha” moments happen.
“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” - Henry Van Dyke
In a talk given to a group of students in a devotional, Joseph B. Wirthlin implies that there are two basic concepts that must be understood if we are to utilize the gift of time properly. “Concept number one is the haunting thought that time carries no guarantee that it will serve us; it is merely made available to us. Concept number two is the reality that it remains for each one of us, alone and singly, to learn how to get the most out of the passing hours, days, weeks, months, and even eternity.”
Elder Wirthlin goes on to say that “for every human being, time is a resource - indeed, a unique resource. It can neither be accumulated like money nor stockpiled like raw material. We are forced and compelled to spend it at a fixed rate of sixty seconds every minute; it passes at this predetermined rate no matter what we do. We have no choice, no freedom or free agency in this regard. Time, unlike water or practically anything else one can name, can neither be turned off nor replaced. No spigot can be installed to regulate and control its flow, as can be done with water, and no refilling device may be applied to replenish the quantity….It is the most inelastic element in our entire existence.”
“Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.” - H. Jackson Brown
Due to the fact that I am an over-achiever at heart and a multi-tasker, quotes like this have over the years made me feel like the mere wasting of a second was a violation of this most precious resource. That, however, was the younger me and although I am not motivated as much by guilt in my old age, I still don’t sit still much. I have come to see the value of still and quiet moments for contemplation and rest. These moments that we carve for ourselves are equally as important as the pursuit of something grandiose and lofty.
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” - Marthe Troly-curtin
The spending of time is subjective from one person to the next, from one situation to the next and even from one day to the next. Only we can determine the best and most useful way to utilize this gift. The use and/or misuse fluctuates from time to time along our journey while navigating opportunities and challenges as they present themselves. The beautiful thing about time is that we rarely are a victim of its fruits. Even those who have been dealt a fateful blow have offered hope and courage in the way they utilize time and work with what they have. It needs not be the jailer that it sometimes appears on the surface to be.
Time vacillates back and forth being a cruel teacher a generous and nurturing mother. It can be a ruthless master, a skillful healer, and a patient mentor. Whatever it is to us, at any given time we have the power to tap into the best of what father time has to offer. Perhaps this can best be summed up with a quote from the screenplay of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, This story is about a boy with Progeria, a disease that causes one to age very rapidly from infancy. “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you have never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” ~Eric Roth.
Although we never know how much overall time has been allotted to us, the older we get the more aware of the sand falling through that proverbial hourglass. We realize it really cannot be stopped so we better fit in as much as we can. If we could all live our lives as if it were later than we think, we may wish for more days of “something” rather than “nothing”……or not!