Like Death And Taxes, You Can’t Fight Time

2010 October 28

Hate To Break It To You is a recurring feature wherein we dispense succinct home truths that everyone could benefit from facing up to, unpleasant as they may be.

Time is going to keep passing no matter how you choose to spend it. I hear a lot of folks bemoaning the fact (and I’m guilty of it myself) that what they want or need will take sooo long to achieve that it really isn’t worth making the effort. But the thing is, even if it takes you two years to lose the weight or you’re on the adoption waiting list for three or steaming off all the wallpaper in the upstairs hallway isn’t going to be finished until next Christmas, that time is going to pass anyway. Intellectually, it’s uncomfortable to deliberately opt into delayed gratification over leaving the door open to some yet-to-be-identified Hail Mary pass that will give us what we want without demanding three calendars’ worth of effort. I get that. But the clock ain’t gonna stop just because you shun thinking about the long term.

Photo by Joe Lanman

Sure, some means of passing the time are more labor and commitment intensive than others (going back to school to become a vet vs. signing up for clinical trials of a new drug for MS), but think about how you’d be spending those weeks or months or years otherwise. How many of us would be spending them engaged in replacement activities and pursuits to rival the ones we’re putting off? If you weren’t training to make the Boston Marathon qualifying time, it’s far more likely that you’d just be dicking around as per usual (and thinking about how you’d love to get into distance running someday) vs. learning mixed martial arts or fostering kittens as a substitute.

And if you haven’t identified an abbreviated route to the satisfaction you’re seeking, it’s very likely that you’ll come to the end of the time you thought would take forever to pass with absolutely nothing to show for the period you deemed everlasting except for the cold comfort of not having “wasted” it on working your way closer to your end goal. Congrats on that shrewdness, by the way.

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One Response
  1. 2010 November 7
    Anonymous permalink

    Jesus! Another zinger. I can’t count the times I’ve been stuck in a shitty job, filing somebody’s “vitally important” BS that they never plan to look at again, fuming about how I could be using that time to write the next great novel or study for an exam or .. let’s face it.. exercise. And then I have a day with nothing to do, and I spend it watching The Office Season 5 on Netflix. It’s a problem.

    I should really learn to knit for those Netflix days, so my self-indulgent Saturday afternoons can result in cheap but personal Christmas gifts. Yeah… I need to not do my laundry so that I can learn to knit… *Cue Netflix*