Patrick Ward words, code, and music

Time Well Spent

I’m sitting on the front porch of my house with my two dogs, cracking a slight smile as I watch them sniff the blustery, spring air. They seem aware of every shift in the wind as it blows through the china berry next to us. I can hear the kids splashing in the pool next door. Their shrill voices carry across the lawn in short bursts, competing with the wind’s sweet whisper. There’s a glossy black crow cawing in the oak tree to my right, dark and lonely against the tree’s newly minted leaves. As I breath in deeply, the spring air smells of pine, oak, and lilac. And I’m thinking: what a fine day it is to be sitting here, listening, observing, and capturing experiences. It’s time well spent.

But, it’s rare that I’m so cordial with time. Too often I blame it for not staying put. It seems to run off to unknown regions of the galaxy, only to return and share the great adventures it’s enjoyed while I sat restless and indecisive at home. I often imagine time is like a snickering, vulgar bully taunting me from behind, reminding me of it’s superiority to my frail human form.

But, it’s also my time. No one else can hold it or experience it like I can. It’s my own construct and so in a way, when it’s scoffing and jabbing I have to admit that it’s really me poking at myself. It’s humiliating to turn around in anger, only to face my own finger pointing inwards.

I can’t control the unremitting nature of how I perceive time, it’s built into my biology. It may be an illusion in physics, but in my life it has real consequences. It’s a commodity, and a scarce one at that. There’s no getting away from the finite number of days I have on this earth, and even that unsavory delicacy is an unknown figure. I can, however, choose how my time is spent.

I can sell it, spend it, sizzle it up and waste it if I want. It can even be stolen from me. I cannot, however, ignore how I choose to use it. A solution will be chosen regardless of whether I choose or not. Each second I spend in deliberation is also spent in time, sifting away the precious reserves I am allotted.

I often spend it raging; at the disobedience of my dogs, piled up medical bills, a decaying house, and a career that’s skidding to a halt. Lately, I’ve been roasting it over the coals of unanswered questions and decisions that must be made.

I didn’t want to spend it that way today. I realized that money can be found, bills can be managed, houses can be mended over time, and careers can be salvaged. That can all wait for a day. As for the dogs, their momentary lapse of obedience is fleeting. Invariably, they melt my heart a few seconds later.

I decided to leave all that rage and anxiety behind for a day, and spend my time in quiet; sitting, reading, and writing. I chose to spend it observing my dogs, watching as they sniff the feint sea-mist out of the air, listening to the breeze rushing through oaks and pines, and delighting in the occasional bird that swoops down gently to rest on a branch above us. I chose to savor my time today, and let all those incessant worries pass me by. It was time well spent.