As I contemplated dropping my van to the mechanic this morning, I considered how I might get back home as fast as possible. I could get the missus to follow me in the family car. I'd save time, get more work done, achieve more than I would if I walked.
Really? To what end?
It's a fight I take to myself regularly, and these days, the part of me that wants to take its time usually wins.
It seems we're obsessed with productivity–more completed, less time. Our sense of self, worth and value, it appears, is well and truly hitched to it. So-called leisure time is sacrificed for the sake of work, for the sake of business, and what's left is usually filled with frivolous engagement in meaningless activities. TV, movies, social media, newspaper stories of other people's lives, drugs and alcohol, gossip – anything but quality time with family or quiet moments for self-contemplation.
Distraction, it seems, is the name of the game. Whatever we do, be it work or not, we can't seem to spend time with ourselves. We've got to stay occupied.
In an article today in Behavioural Scientist, author Ashley Williams suggests that technology is shredding our leisure time. She says that we have more leisure time today than we did fifty years ago, but our increasing availability via technology invades that space. It seems to me, that the time we've apparently gained is simply filled with ever increasing distractions and “work” is just one of them, therefore, what we've gained is not leisure time.
She says that we adopt technology to gain control over our working lives. Perhaps we do it to become more efficient, to become better at our jobs, to feel more accomplished. Or maybe we have little choice in the matter.
The truth, from my perspective, is that we have no choice. Western industrialised society enforces its rules and regulations upon us – both written and unwritten – and technology is the rod it beats us with.
Or is it that we beat ourselves?
We seem bound and dictated to by an invisible force. Its rules occupy our minds and become the voice in our heads. The challenge for each of us, therefore, is to break from its grip.
Because you see, not one of us is getting out of here alive. We must all face our own personal mortality and the mortality of the ones we love. It is the only inevitability in this life. It is a sobering one, a place we do not like to go. Why would we? That part of us that believes we are substantial, that we are somebody, does not like to consider itself annihilated, gone forever.
But is this personal identity with all its important things to do really all that we are?
I like to think we are more than that. You might not agree, but the truth is that neither of us will know, at least from this particular psycho-physical perspective. But what I do know is that while I'm here I want ease, fulfilment, engagement, interest, curiosity, contentment, challenge and stimulation. I want to command my own time and work, and direct my own life. Less and less do I wish to be under the control of others who actually don't understand what they want themselves, and who certainly don't understand my needs.
So the only question remaining is how do we each, individually, wish to spend our lives?
Do we rush around attempting to fill every minute with things to do, chasing down applause and recognition? Or do we take our time in things that truly engage our curiosity, and soak up as much of it as possible in the process?
So this morning, in consideration of my trip to the mechanic earlier, I ask myself, what is it I want to achieve, and why do I want to achieve it?
Why is it so important?
Who or what is the voice in my head that insists there is merit in this pursuit?
What value, ultimately, is there to be gained from getting there faster, in saving time?
As if I could.