Have you ever been sitting halfway through a movie and started recognizing how lame the movie was? God, this is SO dumb, you think. And you still watch it, perhaps hoping that somehow a hero will fly in to save the day, zipping in out of the sky with his bright fluttery cape, even though it’s not that kind of movie. The credits roll, and you think, why did I waste my time?
Have you ever spent an hour (or ten) playing the same video game you’ve played so many times before, even though you’ve already beaten that level, you’ve already stomped those zombies into the ground? You were bored, perhaps just wanting a little mindless activity after a long, stressful day at work. On some level, you’re enjoying it, but on another, you’re not satisfied and you think about how there’s now less time in the day.
Have you ever gone out to a social event because you felt a little pressured to be there. You did not technically have to go, but if you hadn’t gone, you would have gotten a bit of flack. Meanwhile, at home, your family’s spending time without you. You wish you were with them, instead. You notice the clock, it seems to barely move.
Time is so limited. Unless you’ve discovered both the fountain of youth AND a flying DeLorean with a Flux Capacitor, you won’t have a lot of TIME to experience in this life. Whether we get another life after this one, no one truly knows, though I’m certainly hoping so. In the meantime, it’s in our best interest to treat our time as one of our most valuable resources. It’s not the icing on your cake: it’s the cake itself. May it be ever chocolate.
Minimalism is a paring down of STUFF. It’s getting rid of the clutter until what remains is what matters. This goes for mental clutter as well. This also means your schedule. Right now, your written and unwritten schedules may have stuff on it that are just cluttering it up, stealing your precious time. It’s the unwritten items on your schedule that pose the most danger, I think. It’s all those little things you do that you didn’t really plan on doing, they just happened along like a stray donkey and you thought you might as well take a little ride.
This is really where I’m at right now. I want to make it count. I don’t want to get on the stray donkey if he’s not taking me somewhere interesting and picturesque and full of chile rellenos. I want to choose to spend my time doing things that are worthwhile. If there’s something I must do, then I must do it. If there are things I don’t have to do, then I really need to take a close look at whether it’s really counting as time well spent. I’ll break out the microscope, tug the fabric of time under my studious gaze, and think: Is this what I want to be doing today?
Each of us gets to decide how we’re going to spend our free time. We may not always have immediate control over a lot of it, but many of us have at least some control over our free time. That’s why it’s called free time. It’s a gift to us. Spend it in a way that leaves you satisfied.
If you’re in the middle of a book, a movie, a play (unless it’s your kid’s play, in which case you better stay glued to that seat), or an event and you’re not enjoying your time, ask yourself. Can you move on to something else? Can you make another choice? Can you make it count? If you can, go. Fly like a big-eared elephant with a funny little hat and be content.