The best thing about life is it beats the alternative—plain and simple. All of the things you do are part of life’s fabric. Once you’re dead and gone, no one remembers the last sales presentation you gave bombed. Death gives us a pass on stuff like that.
We are constantly reminded to live life to the fullest, that it’s a gift and we never know which day will be our last. We are told to not put off the things it is we would like to do with our lives. As the end of the year fast approaches I have regularly heard how fast the past year has gone. I have even found myself commenting about this during recent gatherings and outings.
What is it that makes time seem to pass so fast?
In a nutshell, routines are what make life go fast. When we are in self-imposed prisons of our own choosing, dwelling on things that contribute to malaise, time seems to drag, slow and ultimately crawl by. This is when the t-shirt “Life Sucks and Then You Die” comes into play for many of us.
Life is a struggle; I will give you that. Since we are creatures of habit, routines suit us best. Having the ability to go through the motions, not have anything more than minor blips come up in our days, contributes to the rapid passage of time. Things slow down during a crisis, until they speed up again when we over-analyze them. When something is “on the line,” it seems time is passing quickly and we must choose or decide before we are fully comfortable to do so.
Since we are creatures of habit, we prefer our routines to uncertainty and long pauses, generally-speaking. When we have to be somewhere, some time and on some day, we are most happy. It is part of the routine that gives our life rhythm.
People are quite often uncomfortable when forced to begin their day with a blank slate. It is probably not having the sense of purpose a regular schedule can bring that makes them feel this way. It is not uncommon for those without busy days to hear from others around them, “What are you doing today?” While those with not-so-packed daily schedules can appreciate the question, they find themselves amused that no matter their response, the questioner may be disarmed by the perceived lack of productivity or things to do that the person is comfortable with.
Not having a full schedule each day can build an appreciation for life. When we are not as busy as those around us, there are no reasons to feel guilty or things to be made to feel guilty about. The non-busy schedules are the ones that most of us covet after weeks and months of heightened, crazy activity on our jobs. If not for our job-providing ruts, we would never have need for vacations.
Improvise more, toil less
The persons who are able to enjoy days of ad-libbing as they proceed through life are the ones to be envied. Not having to be somewhere, someplace, sometime, every time, each day, leaves the creative mind open to fulfillment and enjoyment. It satisfies our unconscious, serendipitous yearnings while making us feel we are staying in the moment, each moment, as much as we can.
I have done lots of jobs. I always liked the ones best where there was ample time for creativity by virtue of less packed schedules—aka down time. I once had a job where I would show up, do work if there was work to do, then go home afterwards. I didn’t need a stable paycheck where I could count on a certain level of income each week. I was a young, single guy, playing in a band and so was regularly augmenting to whatever I brought home on the day job. I rode my bicycle to this day job and the employer liked the arrangement well enough. He liked that I did not “milk the clock” by sitting around when there was nothing to do. Let’s face it, there isn’t something going on each minute of our working days where we are “working.” Collectively-speaking, we Americans waste an incredible amount of time on our jobs. If you beg to differ, I’ll even suggest you are wasting time when you are in meetings—the biggest corporate time drains of all time.
I least like the holiday season’s deadlines we have to be aware of for gift-giving. We long ago commercialized this time of year, giving way to marketers’ ideas as to what, when and where it is we should be shopping and gifting. For persons with sparse, daily schedules, the best thing about these deadlines is these individuals can graciously help people they love who are considerably, hecticly, and stressfully more busy than they, meet these deadlines—a most productive, giving and purposeful use of the day.
Now go get out there and finish your shopping like no one is watching.