Time Ain’t On My Side

I should have a stockpile of blog entries that I could post when I was out of ideas (or, like this week, out of both ideas and TIME) so that I could maintain my disciplined weekly Tuesday night postings.  On the positive side, I am determined to post SOMETHING – ANYTHING – so as to avoid disappointing myself.  On the negative side, it’s highly unlikely that I can produce something meaningful and worthwhile in the span of a couple of hours, although I did manage to put together some notes for this week’s post on Saturday morning, which is the time I often find myself to be the most writerly (if I can manage to get my fat butt out of bed, that is).

It’s like being back in college, when you’ve basically slacked all semester but now it’s time to produce a paper overnight so that you don’t flunk outright.  I once took at class at Trinity College called “Color”, which was a really quite interesting examination of color theory for non-fine arts majors like myself.  We had to buy this big box of 5” x 8” sheets of colored paper, like giant paint chips, and lay them out to determine things like gradation and complementary and tertiary color combinations.  It was enough to make you go cross-eyed!  As a course-long project, we needed to re-create a famous painting using little colored bits of paper we had collected from magazines.  I chose Paul Klee’s “Sinbad the Sailor”, which I figured would be easy because it already featured a mosaic of similarly colored squares in the background (representing the ocean) and distinct colors and shapes superimposed on top.  I dutifully collected a file folder’s worth of mostly blue paper over a period of months but, thanks to a preference for play over work and a tendency to smoke too much marijuana, I sat down to start the project – a very LARGE project, I might add – the night before it was due.  It was December 8, 1980.  You may recall what happened that night:  John Lennon was shot.  I sat splay-legged on my living room floor, cramping up periodically, cutting and pasting hundreds of tiny blue pieces of paper on a deceptively and disconcertingly large sheet of oaktag, listening to a never-ending loop of Beatles songs and crying.  Needless to say, I did not do well in that class.

Paul Klee, Sinbad the Sailor [1923]

You know what I wish I could have?  A WHOLE WEEK to do what I want, at my own pace, without having to worry about paying bills or deadlines.  Just unfettered time to play with and pet the creatures, take walks on the beach, troll the internet, read whatever interests me, scribble in my notebooks and maybe organize and read them. Who knows when I’ll ever have the time to do that before I die, and yet why else would I have saved them for decades?  Clearly I think I’m going to get around to reading them and maybe even using them in some way, at the very least to prove that all those hours writing all those words, all that ink and paper (all those dead trees!), had some value and purpose – my LIFE, basically, had some value and purpose, because my writings, my journals, my thoughts preserved on paper ARE my life.  Even though much of it is pathetically repetitive drivel and daily whining, I’ve set it all to paper to the best of my limited ability, awaiting the perfect opportunity to re-address and create from it something worthwhile for the world – to justify my existence, basically.

But there’s so much minutiae of life that occupies our days, and I personally have two terrible afflictions that contribute to my time-wasting:  my inability to get out of bed in the morning and a proclivity for procrastination (see “Procrastination Station”, 10/14/15).

I envy so many of the guests I’ve heard on one of my favorite pop-culture podcasts, The George and Tony Entertainment Show [https://www.facebook.com/George-Tony-Entertainment-591652040911328].  Just to name a few from recent weeks:  Vivek J. Tiwary, the author of the multi-award winning graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story (illustrated by Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker), Broadway producer and proprietor of a multi-platform arts and entertainment company, Tiwary Entertainment Group (www.tiwaryent.com and www.thefifthbeatle.com);  Phil Rosenthal, the creator and executive producer of the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond” and currently the star of his own PBS travelogue series, “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having”; Darrell Taylor, a podcaster extraordinaire with a slate of entries on his own Taylor Network (http://taylornetworkofpodcasts.com/); Mara Wood and Maria Norris, two of the co-hosts of comics podcast The Missfits (http://talkingcomicbooks.com/category/podcast-2/the-missfits/); even the host of the podcast, George himself (though Tony is a bit of a slacker!!).  I’m constantly amazed at how these folks are able to engage in so many fascinating projects – both of the money-making and self-fulfilling varieties – in the limited number of hours in a day, days in a week and weeks in a year.  We all get the same number of hours (although the number of years may vary):  How is it that some people are able to achieve so much in those limited hours and some of us do so little?  Time is relative, they always say.  It goes faster when you’re older, or when you’re having fun.  Maybe instead of incessantly complaining about “where did the time go?” (both long- and short-term), I should be filling every hour with equal parts things I enjoy and tasks I abhor but that are necessary for my existence.  (Sleeping qualifies as both, but sleep is also a bit of a problem for me [see “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream”, 9/16/15].)

Unfortunately, multi-tasking is not my forte.  For years I’ve observed my boss, who possesses one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever known, carry on myriad simultaneous activities with seemingly no loss of effectiveness, but lately I’ve noticed that even he is no longer able to multi-task like he used to.  He might be slowing down with age, but frankly I’ve never been one of those folks who could walk and talk and chew gum at the same time.  EVER.  I get flustered and discombobulated when forced to hold too many thoughts in my head at once, and then I just break down and lose track of everything.  Even listening to music in the background while I’m drafting or reviewing contracts can be a distraction, because I’ll hear a new song that appeals to me and then I have to stop what I’m doing to (a) listen more closely and (b) find something to write on to remember the name of the song, or the artist, or the thoughts it invoked in me.

Unfortunately, making money has become the driver of my life.  I’ve got too many expenses, even though – trust me – I do not live extravagantly.  (In fact, I find people who do live extravagantly to be a little gauche – see “An Excess of Excess,”, 6/24/15.)  But I do appreciate a comfortable life and being able to get what I want when I want it, and to pay for things I need, like pet care and my daughter’s education and food and my TV.  Yes, there are things I could live without, but I don’t WANT to live without them.  Ergo, I have to make money – a lot of money – just to afford it all.  And that means devoting a large chunk of my time to mercenary pursuits.  Fortunately, all my years of education and (sort of) hard work have made it possible for me to earn more money than I ever thought possible 15 years or so ago.  But I also never imagined that I’d be so miserable doing it.

Such is my life these days.  I don’t enjoy it even though I know I should be savoring every moment, because you never know when it could all be taken from you.  I don’t want to end this post by getting all dark and depressing, but I feel like I’m wasting valuable life here.  I need to find ways to sneak in some snippets of joy when I can:  cuddling with a kitty or a pup, watching the Rangers win a good game, eating some yummy food guilt-free, talking to a dear friend on the telephone, discovering some gorgeous new music.  The moments are there to be grabbed – I just need to grab them and let the happy times outweigh the drudgery.  Tomorrow!  I’ll start tomorrow.  Tomorrow is another new day, a fresh new 24 hours to work (and play) with!

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