Saturday, July 19, 2008

To Everything There Is A Season And A Time To Every Purpose Under Heaven

I always liked that scripture. Yesterday, I stumbled across a book that my brother had on time. It was "The Geography of Time" by somebody or other and he'll probably do a 42nd page on it if he hasn't already. Anyway, it made me think about my time.

Every weekday morning, I wake up at 5:50am and get ready for work ...that is unless I hit the snooze button. Then I get 5 more minutes of sleep, as if that will really make a difference in how tired I feel. I head out the door by 6:40 and drive 50 minutes to work, unless there's a big accident or the weather is bad, then it can be much longer. I work 8 hours and then I drive for another hour to get home again. When I'm home I still might have work to to do as I'm almost always on-call these days.

My day is dictated in precise increments of time that can be measured and dissected. I live my life on clock-time. Whenever anything takes me off course from the planned events of my day, I feel out of balance and irritable. Even planned events not of my choosing can bother me.

In two days, I will be hopping in a car and heading to Lava Hot Springs. In that tiny corner of Idaho, I step out of clock-time and into the world of event-time. I sleep when I want, wake when I want, eat when I want, swim when I want, tube when I want. Time is still measured in days but instead of hours and minutes, the day is subdivided by the ending of one activity and the beginning of the other.

I read in the book that hunter-gatherer societies typically work 15 to 20 hours a week. The rest is spent in leisure, often just napping and staying out of the hot midday sun. Nobles and peasants alike in the middle ages had about 115 holidays a year. That is nearly a third of the year spent kicking back and having a good time!

My year is filled with a lot more hours of work than that. Beginning to hypermile has helped reduce my stress, at least during my commute. I take the drive home much more casually now. When I get back from my short reprieve from the real world, I will begin working a compressed work schedule, probably four sets of ten hour days and an extra day off during the week.

What will I do with that extra day? Probably housework, gardening, and the like. Maybe I'll work on sewing and selling custom paintball soft-goods. My clock-time centered perspective fears that I'll squander much of that day in unproductivity, a very American perspective.

Our time is perceived to be so valuable that we must either be productively earning money with our time or engage in "productive leisure" activities like cycling or painting. Just sitting and meditating or doing nothing is considered time wasted. Maybe those people in Nepal are onto something. Time is never wasted to them. Even doing nothing is actually doing something with the time.

I guess on my sabbatical next week, I will have plenty of time to meditate on what to do with the extra day off from work I'll start getting. And I'll consider it time well spent.


Blogger Michael A. Cleverly said...

Gasp! You mean you don't read every 42nd page entry and commit it to heart?? ;-)

The 42nd page of A Geography of Time was the 10pm-evening book on June 10th.

When in Lava, if you take U.S. 30 east towards Soda Springs, as you come down the backside of the mountain from Lava there is a lone house tucked away on the north side of the road, far from anything else.

I've imagined what it would be like to be able to spend a week or two there, with no clocks, no watches, no cell phones that tell time, no TV... and just live on event time. I've always imagined I'd need to come prepared with a big stack of books to read...

9:28 PM  

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