Marolt: The art of being busier and better than the next guy
There are usually bananas, but they are always too late. They’re on the counter, next to the cash register, so you’ve already picked out everything you need by the time you see them. Their unnaturally muted shades of yellow make them look unappetizing by comparison to what’s in your armload. It’s why there is no choice but to eat poorly when you’re on the road, connecting convenience stores by tanks of gasoline, the functioning of bladders, and the craving for calories.
That’s why I found myself flying over McClure Pass making kettle-cooked jalapeño-flavored chips chase over-salted beef jerky into the void where lunch goes to die. It’s a modern meat and potatoes diet. If you wash it down with a full-strength Coke, you’ve consumed the all-American yellow-light special. Slow down before it kills you.
Pardon me for being jammed for lack of time to eat right. I didn’t get the requisite eight hours of sleep the night before, either. I’d woken up at 4 in the morning to get my work done so I could leave for Paonia at noon to watch my boy play baseball. It makes for a long, mad day of rushing around, but it’s good training for lacrosse season where I’ll be driving to the Front Range with my girl for a month and a half of Friday nights spent in hotels and dinners at sit-down fast food joints designed for yuppies who grew up on McDonald’s and think they’ve moved on from that.
It’s the crazy, out-of-control, super-busy hectic life of a parent made up of time that is no longer my own. I know you don’t feel any sympathy for me. Deep down you think I’m bragging. And, you’re right. The slightly tousled hair, the ridiculous pace I stride, and the no-time-to-talk-right-now-I’ll-text-you-at-midnight attitude are a new badge of honor. I’m busy. My life is full. It means I’m important.
I don’t have a minute to myself, except that I actually do. That is, at least, what a sociologist at the University of Maryland says. His name is Father Time. His other name is John Robinson.
I used part of my busy day to read a few things he has written on the topic of being busy. And, that turns out to kind of be his point.
I read some things that he wrote. I had to read it, but nobody made me. It was part of my insanely busy day. It was a completely elective obligation. The time I used is what was formerly known as ‘“leisure time.”
Basically what Robinson suggests is that people have way more free-time than they are willing to admit. We don’t say we have it, because it is like not having a status posted on Facebook. Having nothing to do used to be a symbol of success; now it’s the mark of begin a loser. Who wants to be a loser?
Not me! That’s why I turn cutting out of work early to spend eight hours driving to Paonia and back for a high school doubleheader into an obligation. But, just because it wears me out and makes the day feel like it went by so fast that it didn’t happen doesn’t mean that it wasn’t time off. If it isn’t actually, making myself and others believe this is a burden should be a sin.
Chasing my kids around to all of their activities, trying to finish my first novel, mowing the lawn, tinkering around the garage under the guise of cleaning it, even writing this column are things I honestly love to do. While they are not lying on the sofa mindlessly watching the tube, they are not only leisure-time activities, they are leisure time on steroids! They are far better than doing the nothing I think I crave. And, even though I really have signed on to do some of them on a regular basis, that doesn’t preclude them from being leisure activities — think eating dinner.
I think a great myth in our culture is that somebody actually spends time doing nothing and enjoys it. The truth is that every one of us has 24 hours a day to use and there is never any time left over after a day is through. We all use every hour we are given. Nobody is busier than anyone else. I’m sorry, that this is all I can give you on this subject, but I have stuff to do. I know you do, too!
Roger Marolt has noticed the more caffeine he consumes the busier he becomes. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.