Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Waste of Time

Typical phonograph tonearmImage via Wikipedia
There is a television promo that runs on the Comedy Channel with the tag line "Time Well Wasted". Well, it's the Comedy Channel, so of course they're going to be irreverent. But remember when having fun as a kid was often considered by our parents to be a waste of time? They wanted us to buckle down and do our homework, or finish our chores around the house...instead we ran around with the neighbourhood kids playing cops and robbers or putting on plays in the back yard.

Or we watched TV and listened to the radio or record player. Record player? Now I'm dating myself. We know a little better now that play time is important to kids, that life shouldn't be all about work. But as adults, we've taken on some of our parents' ideas and attitudes, whether we know it or not, and we've become awfully serious.

Where and when did this change happen? I find myself growling at politicians, worrying about the state of mother earth, never leaving valuables in the car, making sure I take my vitamins and get my 7 or 8 hours sleep...how boring can a person get?? And I don't know about you, but I'm realizing that I do things now that truly ARE a colossal waste of time. The point is that I am so much in the habit of doing these things now, that it's almost impossible for me to stop. So I'm going to list them here in no particular order in hopes of one day freeing myself from their useless grip.
  • Staying angry - anger is a perfectly natural thing to feel and we're all going to feel it from time to time. The real waste of time comes in when we hang on to it or even escalate it, dragging the whole thing out for hours or days, or even months and years. But to what end? Do we really think we're getting even with somebody by staying angry with them? Most of the time they don't even know it and we are the only ones who suffer. Staying angry is stupid. I have wasted so much time in this pathetic state.
  • Judging people - I really don't have any idea what is going on in somebody else's head, no matter how well I think I know them. Everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes. And I'm particularly bad at knowing anything about somebody I've never personally met. Well, duh. But I will sit there and watch somebody on TV or read about them somewhere, and come to all kinds of conclusions about them anyway. That's why tabloid papers and television do so well--because of people like me who take great pleasure in deciding all kinds of deliciously bad things about somebody I've never even been in the same room with. How utterly ridiculous is that?
  • Suffering a past event or trauma - someone once told me about an experience in one of those anonymous meetings. This person was aghast at how many people my age and older were STILL blaming their parents for everything bad that happened in their lives. I remember thinking at the time "It's over, let it go! Get on with your life." But I know myself that I will still waste time suffering over something that happened a long time ago, dragging myself through the upset time and again. Why on earth do we do this? The thought pops into our head for whatever reason, and we just grab on to it and suffer all over again. Let it go, Irene, let it go.
  • Worrying - I am really good at this one. If I don't have anything to worry about, my over-active mind will actually LOOK for something. Is that stupid, or what? Worry is absolutely the most useless state; it does nothing to fix anything and for the most part all it does is exercise your sweat glands and wreak havoc on your nervous system. I can't think of anything I do that wastes more time. And yet, lying in bed at 3 o'clock in the morning, it can take over my entire being in the darkest way. Worry is about over-thinking and over-thinking is something we all do.
In fact, over-thinking is where most of these malignancies occur. In Buddhism, they call it "monkey mind", where it can't stop jumping around from thought to thought, causing absolute mayhem. Maybe you can add to this list of wastes of time. For your sake, I hope not! So what on earth can I do to stop them? I'm going to have to think on that.

IJ
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