Updated: Sep 1
I begin writing on the notion of ‘killing time’ with a different approach than intended, having lost all the notes I made on the subject… My immediate thought is how much time I ‘wasted or lost’ in writing those notes, but was it?
Does the answer to this question rely solely upon there being something substantial to show for the time? As my notes are gone, I now have nothing to show for it; however, I still spent the time and enjoyed brainstorming ideas. I also may benefit from trying to remember it all and inadvertently improve my recall in the process. If we're lucky, I may even improve upon what I'd originally written.
That being said, just how do we go about applying value to time?
One is reminded of the aphorism ‘Time is Money’. Whereby the notion that any time ‘wasted’ is therefore costing you money, ‘wasting’ being doing anything other than earning money. If modern capitalism were to be summed up in three words, it would be difficult to think of any more apt. I would also suggest how much money we earn doesn't directly correlate to how much we work, with some earning much for very little effort and vice versa.
There are signs which recently appeared around my home city of Sheffield stating ‘Time is the greatest gift you can give’, and this seems like a far healthier view. Rather than elevating the status of money even further by making time subservient to it; here time is described as the most precious commodity of all. It also suggests time is something you can own and something you can give. Of course, if you can own it and give it, you most surely can lose or waste it... We seem rather adept at quantifying what is at best intangible and worst a complete mystery.
Finally, we reach the original focus of this piece – killing time, surely one of the worst crimes imaginable. I’ve been there myself, killing time before meeting a friend, waiting for the match to start, or waiting for a bus to finally show up. Brutally murdering the most precious of gifts by playing Candy Crush Saga or some other nonsense, serving to both kill the time and cause psychological damage all at once.
As I was reminded recently while watching Peaceful Warrior, ‘There are no ordinary moments’. If you can be mindful and alert, observant to your surroundings, then there is no time to kill. You will be so very present in the thousand moments happening all around you, that you don’t even notice the time. Gone are the days of watching a clock tick ever slower, as instead when your bus arrives you rue the lack of extra time to spend watching the new family of ducks in the nearby river.
Should you struggle to employ this kind of mindful observation, or perhaps you’re in a dentist waiting room on your own and the only thing to mindfully observe is yourself*, there is another option. Boredom, a wonderful tool and perhaps the single greatest innovator in human history. Allow yourself to become bored, see where your mind goes, what it comes up with by itself. As children we used our imagination relentlessly, coming up with all sorts of inventive and creative solutions to stave off the ever-looming boredom.
Time, what is it?
The 5th dimension, a tool to be used, a gift to be given, an asset to be hoarded, a free resource to be wasted, a finite supply, an unending stream, a quantifiable commodity, an unexplainable phenomenon, none of the above, or every one of them and more?
Whatever it is, it only really matters right now. At this very moment. Because, as Eckart Tolle would say, there is no time but now. An ongoing series of nows, and if your mind is in the future or the past, then you’re missing out on the now. Perhaps ‘Killing time’ could be said to be spending any time outside of the present moment.
I’ll leave you with a wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.’
Let us know what you think!
See you in Spiritual England, Adam
*Arguably one of the greatest spiritual practices you can do