Wasting Time

I am not sure it’s possible to waste time. It is possible to spend time, and waste is always a judgement relative to some standard or expectation of what we should be doing with our time.

We can use time to do things that we judge as having maximum or high value. When we are really up against a deadline and there is more to do than we think can be done in the time allotted, we can even somehow create time.

Yet, there are many times when I just don’t feel like doing whatever it is I think I should do. Sometimes, I say I don’t have the ‘energy’ to do my chores or to work on a particular project. There have been many times when I have said I am committed to do something and then I toss away any intention of keeping the commitment at the slightest distraction. Whatever I am saying about why I’m not doing something, it’s an excuse, an annoying gremlin within me that operates when there is something that I think I “should do” or some new activity that I know I would like doing if I tried it. As I’ve grown older, I can begin to see that, almost always, behind my actions (or, more accurately, lack of action) is a conversation:

“It doesn’t really matter that much whether I do it or not right now—it doesn’t make any difference—I can always do it another time.”

The fact is I am always either:

  • Making choices (in which case it doesn’t matter much what I am feeling) OR
  • Thinking about what distractions come my way OR
  • ‘Something’ is making the choice for me.

My procrastination and the never-ending voice inside my head is always a product of something ‘not me’—something using me for its purpose and generally setting me up for a bout of guilt or self-invalidation, something that delights in piling on more evidence that I can’t do what I think I should do (or worse—I can’t be the way I want to be given the way I am). One such bout of guilt (or perhaps perfectionism) prompted me to begin to write down these thoughts on procrastination and the genesis of ‘wasted time’. We think we’re not good enough or what we’re producing isn’t good enough. Either way, it’s all part of our judgmental mechanism. This ‘mechanism’, my ‘ego’, controls me—even when I am aware of being controlled.

My ego works like a machine. It doesn’t know about time. It never gets older. It never sleeps. It equates and compares everything with everything else. It has only one purpose and that is to assure my survival by causing me to keep repeating whatever I have done before that has allowed me to survive this long. The older I get, the more evidence it has for what makes me tick. My ego is what causes the persistence of all the things I say I want to change.

So when I say or feel that I don’t have energy, that I still have time, that it doesn’t matter that I am uncomfortable with something, what is really going on is that my ego is playing the tune I am dancing to. At the end of the day, it all seems to make perfect sense.

Perfect sense, except for a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction, a glimmering of opportunities lost, and a shrinking field of possibilities. I find myself gradually caught in the circumstantial drift, moved along by the inertia of the past. I become resigned to the fact that my life—past, present, and future—is whatever I think it is, which is whatever my ego thinks I am thinking.

In this condition, my life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy dictated by my ego. I am trapped in the box of my history and my own interpretations. My future can only be an extension of my past. My only hope of escape: to surrender to something outside ‘my self’ that can allow me to again connect with the possibility I am, something that will allow me to distinguish between me and my ego and recover my capacity for choice.

That being said, I choose to commit to living each moment of my life in a state of profound gratitude and acceptance of each second I live. I have concluded that the only time I can waste is the time I spend deliberating about the value of my time and, at the end of the day, even those deliberations are worthwhile.