The Value of Wasting Time
“We are wasting time. Time wastes itself. Who are we to float in its way?” - Iain Banks
“Why are you wasting your time, don’t you have anything to do?” As a successful juvenile delinquent, I often heard these questions echoing from all and sundry. I never allowed it to bother me as I prided myself on the fact that I was a wastrel. I hung out with nothing to do, nowhere to go and no-one in particular to meet. This was over 20 years ago. A lot has changed as I moved from a life of inaction to addiction to a life of action, but that’s a different story.
These were the beginning years of puberty. A time when I realised I was neither a nerd or jock. I had no interests and I couldn’t care less about my shiny talents. While this didn’t do winders for my social ranking, it gave me the most valuable gift of all - time. I explore interests far and wide. I read on every subject under the sun and developed an understanding of the world. From culture to structure. From geography to philosophy. I did absolutely nothing with this knowledge. I didn’t enter quiz or trivia contests. I didn’t join a book club. I didn’t care to share by giving speeches and talks. All I did was nothing.
As luck would have it, I picked up a drug habit as easily as I picked up a book. But unlike a book, I could not finish it. The tables had turned. It was going to finish me. Every moment was driven by purpose. Everything I did revolved around my fix. Everywhere I went was for the sake of getting high. Everyone I met revolved around the use, abuse and reuse of substance. There was a poetic purity to my life. I lived life on a rollercoaster pace, every lull moment was only a setup to another mind-searing, hair raising ride. There was only one way this ride is gonna end. The end. Crash I did. And how.
From the broken pieces of my life, I had to painstakingly pick what I could and salvage what was left. I had to crawl, before I could walk. But every step was deliberate. Mindful. Mindful of the madness of my mind, nuances that schemed to lead me back where I’d escaped from. Doggedly I strived to live deliberately. To rebuild myself as a man in my own image. To rebuild a reputation as a man of my word. Challenged at every step, I learnt the value of growth, slow but steady. Not frantically as I would have, but one step at a time, one day at a time. The rollercoaster ride suddenly had given way to a chess game. And this time I was winning. Checkmate.
Rest and Repeat
Now again I find myself barely moving, yet effortlessly flowing through life at a languid pace. I’m back in a life of inaction. I have no goals. I have nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No-one in particular to meet. I hear those same questions again.
“Why are you wasting your time, don’t you have anything to do?”
Though the world may view my state of repose as retirement, I’m excited by the field of infinite possibilities in which I lie. In a world, where the pressure to learn, build, break and innovate is mounting, do you value wasting time? The energy of action is derived from the potential of inaction. If that potential has no value, why value the action that springs forth? Society will constantly remind you to perform, but any athlete will tell you that peak performance results from relaxed muscles. It rests on you to remind yourself to rest. So here I am. Sitting quietly. Doing nothing. Leisure is my treasure.
“Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.” - Lewis Carroll