26 Oct 06
I’m sitting here on a bus at 0740h, thinking about how Jeremy Clarkson is right that time starts to speed up to an astounding rate when you turn 33 (in an essay called, In Search of Lost Time, One Chin and a Life, from the Sunday Times of 18 May 03) – having not long turned 34, I can categorically say that, in my experience, he is absolutely right. At 32 you are okay, because you are still in your early thirties. But then at 33 you are hitting your mid-thirties, which is close to 40, which is close to 50, which is close to retirement, which is close to death.
Oh God, give me more time!
As JC says (and we all know how right JC, who has the same initials as the Lord our Saviour, is about such things)… these days, in our teens and our twenties we do nothing, in our forties and beyond we are ‘past it’ and it is ‘too late’; so we have to fit all our living into our thirties… so it is no wonder our thirties is the decade of Jet-Propelled Timeflow!
But then stop… let’s take stock a mo… let’s think about what we’re saying here… Time can’t really speed up at a particular point in your life, can it? It’s just that time becomes more precious; we get more impatient and aware of our mortality…
While I was writing the above, the bus on which I was travelling to my place of work had to stop and the driver had to get off and fix a little problem which meant a painful high-pitched noise was going off and making us passengers feel like we were in an episode of Star Trek (‘Oh fuck!’ said the driver as he did so, which was amusing and is worth a mention). It took a substantial effort of will to prevent my muscles from tensing, my watch-arm from involuntarily rising to my face and a sigh + a tut + a ‘oh-come-on-hurry-up-I’m-going-to-be-late!’ from emerging from my gob.
But then I thought: come on! – you’re writing about how we don’t have enough time, you’ve recently read How to be Idle and you are contributing to The Idler online forum… Occasions like this are an opportunity! So what if you are late for work? If anyone passes comment, just toss them a ‘bus-was-late’ and sit slowly and deliberatively at your desk with a like-it-or-lump-it demeanour. At least the bus driver (though frustrated) stopped and made the time to fix the problem, rather than allowing his charges to suffer the ear-bleeding agony of a rolling-around-the-bridge-of-the-Enterprise moment in order to reach his destination at the arbitrary time set by the evil and controlling Gods of the Timetables.
So cherish these moments, I say. When the bus breaks down or is late. Or the train. Or you are stuck in a queue, on the motorway or in an airport. There’s nothing you can do. You can’t actually will the bus to arrive sooner or the queue to move quicker, so just relax, read a few pages of a book or allow your mind to simply drift to those places you don’t normally allow it to drift to. Okay, granted, it’s difficult to be all Zen and serene when there are bored, screaming kids in the vicinity, the weather’s crap and everyone else around us is stressed to hell, but give it a go eh? Time is precious, but let’s try and be more grateful for what we do have. Particularly these inexpected gifts of a few minutes or an hour, which force us to stop and think about how to fill it.
Failing that, buy yourself a Nintendo DS and take out your frustrations on WarioWare.