January 1, 2013

Time flies wiithout me

I’M NOT MUCH of a one for New Year resolutions, but if I were I would resolve to stop worrying about being made to feel guilty for wasting time.

I sometimes wonder why people try to make me feel guilty about doing nothing.  I mean, when I’m sitting on a boat with a beer in my hand and my mind in neutral, staring into space, and soaking up the peace, why should I have to be plagued by the almost incessant cries of the great unwashed public, insisting that I should be making the most of my time?  My days here on earth are limited, they point out, a gift from God that should not be squandered.  I should make every second count. I should be doing stuff, achieving stuff, and not just lying around like a lazy good-for-nothing slob. I should get organized and plan my life so that every precious second counts.

Luckily,  I rarely succumb to these feelings of guilt. I have inherited a very welcome natural resistance to over-exertion and over-achievement.  I can kick back in the cockpit on a calm day with my arm hooked over the tiller and never feel the slightest urge to multitask.

Nevertheless, I am often puzzled about where this pressure to indulge in frenzied activity stems from.  It seems to be a very American thing. I lived in Africa for many years and never noticed it there.  People in Europe and South America are  rarely as much affected by it as we are, either. And, of course, in Asia the gurus sit on mountain tops and wait patiently for enlightenment, not seeming to give a darn about how many minutes or days or years they’re wasting, when they could be rushing around achieving stuff.

The pressure often starts at a young age, when parents and teachers start suggesting that playing computer games is not as productive as completing homework assignments. And it never seems to slack off. When you are old enough to go out and seek work, bosses are notoriously biased against those of us who prefer serenity of mind to the mental chaos that comes from pursuing a dozen tasks and not being able to complete any single one satisfactorily.

If my time on earth is a gift from God, then surely it is mine to dispose of as I wish.  If I choose to spend it messing about on boats in a mindless sort of way, rather than rushing around building homes for indigent unfortunates or finding food for starving babies, then there should be no grounds for complaints from the busybodies trying to poke their noses into my private life.

To tell you the truth, there is something magic about doing nothing on a boat. When the blue sky is dotted with white clouds, and a warm, gentle breeze slaps little wavelets against the hull in a soothing symphony, what is more natural than to get out the cockpit cushion and place one’s body upon it (to keep it in position), and to let one’s mind wander into the dreamlike state that frantic seekers of meditation would kill for?

Sometimes I just sits and thinks ­— and sometimes I just sits.  And from now on I sits without feeling guilty.

Today’s Thought
I never had a watch nor any other mode of keeping time in my possession, nor ever wish to learn how times goes . . . When I am in a town, I can hear the clock; and when I am in the country, I can listen to the silence.
— William Hazlitt, On a Sun-Dial

Time flies like a speeding arrow.
Fruit flies like a rotten banana.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Tillerman said...

Well said, Sir.

Bill said...


Dale Stevens said...

If I were not otherwise engaged by watching the sunlight reflecting off wind driven snowflakes, I would post a thoughtful reply....

http://bills-log.blogspot.com said...

Psalm 23:1-3
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall no want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Matt Marsh said...

John, you just HAD to post this on the first office day of the new year ;)

You hit the nail on the head once again, of course, and I will try to keep this post in mind next time things get busy around here.

seadog1949 said...

I must have my wife read this. But for now, I better get some more firewood in.