Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

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Time

June 2, 2010

Time is a funny thing. It eludes us so easily, and yet without it, we’d all be lost. How would we know when to wake up? How would we know when to show up for work or a dentist appointment? It makes you wonder. If time didn’t exist, or if we simply chose to ignore it, would we be better off, or worse? If our lives weren’t so intricately bound to a schedule based on time, would we be more happy, or just lost and confused?

From personal experience, it’s refreshing once in a while to let loose the chains and not worry about looking at the clock on the wall. I’ve travelled to Cuba twice and the Dominican Republic once, and it was nice to not be concerned about the time of day. I just didn’t care. I figured if the sun was up, it was daytime, and when the sun went down, it was night-time. The only time we had to look at a clock was for our dinner reservations. Granted, when you’re on vacation, things are a little different. There’s no concern, because you’re not really under any pressure to accomplish anything other than your own personal relaxation. That’s not a bad thing, but in the real world we spend most of our time working to make a living, so the amount of actual free time we have is pretty scarce.

Consider my situation: I wake up most mornings at around 7:30-7:45am, and then hop in the shower, maybe grab a bite to eat and then I’m out the door by 8:30. I spend an hour commuting into work, and then spend the next 8-9 hours there. After work, which is usually between 6 and 6:30pm, I leave and then spend another hour commuting back home. I get home between 7 and 7:30pm on most nights, and if I’m lucky, Lorrie is home before me and already has dinner on the go. If not, I spend the next hour or so making dinner, sometimes longer. Lorrie rolls in, sometimes as late as 8:30pm, and we either start eating the dinner I made, or go out for dinner if there’s no food in the house. By the time we’re done eating, it’s already after 9. If we decide to clean up the kitchen, that takes another half an hour, so call it 9:30. If Lorrie works early, she’s usually in bed by 11 at the latest, so that leaves us roughly an hour and a half to do something we actually want to do. Sometimes we have more time and sometimes less depending on the day and what time we get home, but on most nights if we can fit a movie in, we’re lucky. What’s scary is I’ve heard of much worse situations. People that work 60-hour weeks. People with kids that dont get any sleep. People that have mutiple jobs just to make ends meet.

Twenty-four hours in a day hardly seems like enough time to survive anymore. So what’s the solution? Longer days? I dont think time is the problem so much as the way in which we percieve it and how we set our priorities. We try to lay blame on time itself as though it can be held accountable for our shortcomings. The reality is the passage of time is something out of our control, and there will never be more than twenty-four hours in a day to accomodate our needs. So how do we know what to do with the time we have and how to set our priorities? There’s no universal answer to that question, unfortunately. Setting priorities is something I’ve struggled with for years. Trying to decide what’s most important, or what’s the most valuable use of my time. Do I do the things I want to do, or do I do the things that need to be done? If I do the former, responsibilities get neglected and the house turns into a disaster zone. If I do the latter, the house is clean, but I’m miserable because I feel like a slave. It’s a tough balancing act, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get it right. Should I really play an hour of Rock Band when there’s a pile of dirty laundry in the closet? It’s more like a pile of guilt. A big, festering pile of guilt, calling my name as I’m struggling to get five stars on Panic Attack.

There’s so much pressure to be productive these days, and I think a lot of that comes from our employers; companies that want us to be making the best possible use of every second that we’re on their clock. But we’re meant to do so much more than produce results on a balance sheet so some chief executive can buy his or her yacht. And when I say “do so much more,” that doesn’t actually mean doing that much more. Doing more could mean sitting in a rocking chair and reading your favorite book, or taking a walk through the park. The problem with modeling your life after your employer’s work ethics is that the results dont line up. Companies want you to be productive and efficient because it makes them money. But if you spend your days off applying the same principles, trying to accomplish as much as possible in as little amount of time, you’re not going to be any richer. You’re going to be exhausted, and come Monday morning, you wont feel like you had a weekend at all.

In the end, I don’t think there’s a simple answer to handling time, but in the end, the only thing that’s really out of our control is time itself. So what does that leave? Maybe it’s time to break out that list of priorities and go through it with a fine-tooth comb. How many things on that list are truly important? How many of those things could be moved to next week, or next month, or off the list altogether? What about adding a few things that aren’t part of your normal routine? How about on your next day off, you just don’t look at a clock, and plan to not have a plan. Wake up when you wake up. Eat when you’re hungry. Do what makes you happy. Go to bed when you’re tired. Shelf your busy life, just for a day.

I just realized I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time writing this note, but I don’t care. 🙂

~B

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Fall Melancholy – An Annual Happenstance

September 18, 2007

As a child, I remember it starting somewhere around the third week of August. That grueling feeling that situated itself somewhere between my sternum and small intestine, slowly and steadily eroding the euphoria of being on summer vacation. The feeling was a cross between mild nausea and being short of breath, almost as if someone were stirring the contents of my stomach with a spoon. It would happen only occasionally at first, but then as the passing days crept closer and closer to Labour Day weekend it would happen more frequently, stealing away from the usual elation of summer activities. In a sense, summer ended for me after a month and a half.

It wasn’t difficult for me to spot the signs. The shortening of the days. The way the sun hung lower in the sky after dinner, casting unfamiliar shadows across our backyard. The coolness of the night, and the dew that usually followed the morning after. The shifting of the winds that spoke of an inevitable change coming, a change that I was powerless to prevent. And then of course there were the “back to school” commercials in all their sadism. It all seemed so cruel to me that I had to endure this emotional crash every year, trading hot summer days and fun for months of frigid weather and incessant work. My mother seemed unaffected by all this, and I always wondered how she managed to avoid utter depression in spite of the circumstances. She used to tell me that one day I would learn to appreciate the autumn months, and that there was real beauty in the change of seasons that I was ignorant of. I didn’t buy into it at the time.

After two decades of watching the seasons change, I still get a tinge of that feeling, only now it’s not despair. Granted, school has been taken out of the equation, but the end of summer always makes my heart sink a little lower in my chest. Coming to terms with that doesn’t seem as big a deal to me as it did all those years ago, and I find myself accepting that it is what it is: A yearly transition beyond my control that speaks of the intricacy and wonder of God’s creation. Now that I can truly appreciate.

~B

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On Pets and our Relationship With Them

February 5, 2007

This was written as a kind of eulogy for our cat, who escaped on January 2nd and was missing for 25 days. We were very fortunate to have gotten him back, as our neighbour contacted us with news that he may be living in their garage. We had nearly given up all hope, but it goes to show you that small miracles do happen.

How do you measure the relationship between a man or woman and pet? It can sometimes be a difficult thing to quantify. On the surface it may seem like a matter of give and take. We feed them, clean up after them and give them a roof to live under in exchange for their companionship. They depend on us for survival, and we depend on them for their love in return, but do cats really love us?

It’s a natural human assumption to think that cats share all the emotions that we do. Although we’d like to believe that the relationships we share with animals are similar to the ones we share with friends and family, there are a number of obvious differences that set them apart. Perhaps the most obvious one is that animals cannot communicate with us through verbal means, although many animals can be very vocal. They can’t come up to you and say, “I love you,” or “I really missed you while you were gone.” When you forget to fill up the food dish or clean out the litter box, cats don’t run up to you and call you a jerk for being absent-minded. When you’re teasing them or poking fun at them, they don’t tell you to screw off, although four claws across your forearm is usually enough to get that point across. They can’t say any of those things, and yet something about their behavior is enough to convince us that cats share our feelings indefinitely.

And so the simple answer is yes, cats do love us, probably more than we’ll ever realize. It’s written all over their body language – the way brush up against our leg, the way they cuddle in our laps when we sit on the couch, and the way they shut their eyes and purr when we scratch the back of their necks. It’s a mutual bond that extends far beyond filling food dishes and scooping litter. Even though sometimes we take them for granted, and sometimes they even flat out annoy us, having to think about our lives without them is heart-breaking. Indeed, it is a sad and cruel fate that we should have to outlive them, and watch them pass from this world. Cats depend on us for survival, but also for our love, so we owe it to them to appreciate and cherish the relationship we have with them from the day they’re born until the day they die.