Monday, October 03, 2005

In which we consider Time

A while back, I posted on Wargames Correspondence (a wargames group blog I'm part of) about the cost of wargaming as a hobby. Lord Horatio's response (excerpted below) got me thinking about time:

"As a schoolboy, I could afford to spend a whole days of my weekend on a pointless slow play game which had barely started before we tidied up. I could not afford the 80 pence for 2 additional boxes of Airfix soldiers without halting all other spending or 2 months. Today it would be a major arrangement to spend a whole day gaming. One which would cost me a fortnight of compensation in domestic duties and time spent with the 3 sons. On the other hand I can happily spend 40 pounds on gaming materials and barely blink an eye. The relative balance between time and money has moved"
(from Wargames Correspondence)


Time was free as air when I was a child. You didn't think about time: it was the medium you moved in, like the water that surrounds a fish. Now, as an adult, time is an asset - a commodity - a resource that has to be measured with clocks and alarms, allocated with calendars and planners, and given a monetary value with salaries and compensations.

As a child, I had time: as an adult, I have to make time. And, as Lord Horatio points out, the irony is that when you have all the time in the world, you're a penniless teenager: when you have money, you're an adult burdened with responsibilities. The lucky few who exist at the confluence of the two are the rich kids, and millionaire adults (come to think of, those two are usually the one and the same, just at different points in their life cycle): the rest of us make do and make happen.

lost balloons

There's a problem in commoditizing time (which is what we do when we treat it as a resource, rather than a medium of existence): we lose the comfort of just being, and wind up having to justify and account for what we do. We lose the ease of mere existence, and start to worry that we are wasting our time, or throwing our youth away, or being idle, or procrastinating. Imagine what happens to a fish that has to consider every gulp of water, or a person who has to account for every breath he takes. That's what happens to us: we lose that precious ability to just be, which children have and adults envy.

All these thoughts, of course, come on an afternoon spent moving files from Point A to Point B, amidst other administrative work.

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