I’ve been thinking about time a lot recently. I know that time is just a made up construct necessary for humans to be able to comprehend what’s happening instead of experiencing it all at once. Knowing it doesn’t make you a master though. We aren’t able to speed up or slow down how we perceive things, though that would be a pretty sick super power. Drag out the moments that make life worth living, the belly laughs, the smiles that make you smile, the hugs and kisses that make you feel alive. Then, of course, you’d be able to speed things up and get through work quicker to get home and play your video games.
This whole concept was explored back when Adam Sandler still made good movies. I’m pretty sure Click might have been the last watchable one.
My mind has been filled with this concept of time, how we perceive it, how we use it. Ask anyone who’s getting older, which is everyone, and they’ll tell you that time feels like it starts to move a lot quicker the older you get. Spinning like a top, running like a villain and the years are going by like days. Great song by Devil Makes Three if you want something to listen to while you read. With time going by so quickly, I find myself more stressed out, more anxious on an existential level. I feel a lot less stressed out over this last two weeks about the whole thing, but that’s because I’ve been distracting my brain activity with video games rather than confronting it.
I’m not scared to die.
I haven’t been scared to die for a pretty long while now.
I know that I don’t know anything and I’m ready to embrace the unknown of closing my eyes for good.
Recently though, as I start down this path of wanting to follow my dreams, I realize that I don’t want to die. It’s not as if I wanted to earlier or anything, but I was sort of in the mindset of, “if it happens, it happens.” You never know when you’ll go. With all the deaths this last year or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about death as well. You could pass quietly in the night with your family huddled around your bed at a ripe old age where you’ve lived a long, good, life. Or you could have the bad luck of getting killed in a car wreck. I don’t know the odds between which of those two is more likely, but I’d put my money on the latter. It sucks, but it’s true. You could be taken out way before your body gives out on you. I’m not scared to die, but I just… really don’t want to.
I’m twenty-seven years old and I know I’ve got a whole big life ahead of me, assuming the above average time I spend on the road doesn’t get to me. Like I said, I didn’t want to die before, but I figured I had a good enough life. I travel a lot, I’ve got great friends and family, I am lucky to be married to the most wonderful woman on the planet who makes every day special and lovely. I’ve lived a pretty full life, yeah? If you were to ask me a couple of years ago about dying I would say something like, “If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, so be it. I’ve had a good run, did a whole lot of stuff, feel pretty accomplished with all the work I’ve put in with these few years.” Now though, now the thought of death sort of pisses me off.
It all comes down to time and how you use it. A few things have come into my life recently that have been either directly related to this whole thought process or allegorical in a sense.
My sister recommended a podcast called S Town. I could write a whole blog about how great the whole thing was, but I’ll just stick to the part that touched me the most. This dude, John B. McLemore was a horologist, someone who studies time. He restored antique clocks, was fascinated by sun dials and in a note (I won’t go into details) he talks about how much time a person has on this planet. It’s more like, how little time we have. Minus out sleep, obligations and doing stuff that keeps up alive and civilized. “In the end he concludes, the average industrialized man, with 25,000 days on this planet, may easily secure only about 4500 waking hour days of beneficial life.” That’s such a small number when you think about it. Shit, I’ve played Stardew Valley for sixty of these 108,000 hours and that’s just been the last two weeks.
Stardew Valley has been a metaphor. It’s a great game, but it’s taken up a lot of my time with its greatness. There are four seasons, each with twenty-eight days, each day goes by in about twenty minutes. It sort of feels like that most of the time now. I was in school for three years. It’s only been a few months since my year off to write has started, but it feels like we just had the graduation party last week. Fair is eight weekends long and it’s already going to be the fifth weekend coming up. I’m big into numbers, if you couldn’t tell. This website 4TheWords has been great for keeping track of how much of these “beneficial days of life” I’ve spent writing. 5,932 minutes, or 98.8 hours, or 4.1 days of writing. This is only what I’ve kept track of for the last 160 days.
I tend to get down on myself. I tend to be hard on myself when it comes to how I allocate my time. I know I need to be easier on myself, and I have been. I let myself relax, spend time with people, play video games and it really has helped with my levels of anxiety. My plan was to take one week off between finishing Act II and starting on Act II. Because of how this week went and how good of a time I’ve had, it’s turned into a two week hiatus. I can’t complain though. Vegging out with vidja has helped with my sanity. Amy and her kids came to visit over the weekend and then the Fourth of July and all. It’s been a great time. I’m super glad I got to see them all and spend time with them.
I’ve just been thinking of life and time. I’m not reading as much as I would like. I’m not going to the gym as much as I would like. But, other than that, I’ve been doing good. I still am reading, I still am going to the gym. I still have a 160 day writing streak, even if a lot of it is just blogs or journal entries that aren’t progressing the novel. I still get bummed out. I’m still hard on myself, but that’s alright, it just means I’m still motivated. I think I’m not writing enough and then I look at numbers and see that, over the last five or so months, I’ve really put a lot of work in. 4.1 total waking days of beneficial life spent writing isn’t something to spit at. That’s a whole lot of time. My stupid math brain can’t wait until I’ve written 365 days straight and I can see, from this website, exactly how much time I dedicated to writing in a year. I can but a percentage symbol next to a number and say, I did exactly this. I can validate the time I’ve spent not writing with time I spent having written. I’m feeling pretty good about it.
I’ll start writing Act III on Monday, assuming my work schedule allows. I’ll for sure start writing again next week. I love you Stardew Valley, but you’re like digital heroin and I need to cut back so that I can start the work again. There isn’t going to be this magical event where time is suddenly easy to manage. There’s a whole lot to do between the hours of writing. I’m never going to be such a recluse that I stop making time for my friends and family. I’ve got too much of an adventurous spirit to pass up fun times. It’s been like this for 160 days and I’ve managed to squeeze four whole days of writing in since I began.
Time moves on, inevitably, never stopping, never slowing down or speeding up when I want it to. I just have to make the most out of it.
The thought of death pisses me off now. It’s like, there’s no way I’m going to let any of these 4500 days I have allotted to me go to waste by it ending prematurely. That calculation is only to the age of sixty as well. I know we all gripe about getting old, but I don’t mind. If I could live to be ninety, I’d love it.
I drive safer, I go to the gym, I’m putting serious thought into quitting smoking. A lot of it has to do with wanting to write a hundred books before I die, but it’s so much more than that. Every experience with my friends and family and wonderful wife are there to show me that, yes, I’ve lived a full life, but there’s so much more to look forward to.
Time isn’t going to stop until death takes me, but I’m going to make damn sure that I make the most out of it while I have it.