Learning To Take My Time
Sometimes I just don't get it. I mean I don't even know what "it" is that I don't get I'm so far removed from what other people do with themselves. I've lost track of the number of times I say to Eriana (my wife) I don't understand... It could be in reference to people using power tools, men hanging out in groups watching one person work, why people prefer to complain then do something about a problem.
The list goes on. I don't understand television, radio shows, political motivation, sexual and racial intolerance. I don't understand one country's need to go to war against another, food that's packaged and will keep on a shelf for three weeks (and that people eat that stuff and then wonder why they never feel well), or accelerating a car to full speed to get to a stop sign quickly. I don't understand the fascination with the minutiae of stranger's lives just because they make movies or play sports, I don't understand talking endlessly on the phone when your going to see the person on the other end in half an hour.
Eriana usually has one of two responses to my plea of I don't understand: either I'm glad you don't or why would you want to. That I can understand, and while I accept the compliment of the first it still doesn't prevent me from being confused by the behaviour of beings who look like they're the same species as me. I know that I'd be considered the one that's odd because of my questioning. Maybe I slept through more of school then I thought because most everybody else seems to adhere to a code of conduct that they only could have been taught en mass somewhere along the line. It's become so bad that I don't even understand why it should matter to me what others do, but it does. I do care.
Whether it angers or saddens me depends on the mood I'm in that day. Angers me because of the effects their actions have on everybody around them and the little they care. Saddens me because the pathos of the meaninglessness of it all overwhelms me. I think how empty people's lives must be if this is how they fill those hours allowed outside the struggle to survive.
Three years ago an illness that I've been fighting (a chronic pain condition) finally over took me. Not being able to work has resulted in my perspective of time changing. I no longer have my life segmented by how time is to be utilized as either work or non-work. To the extent my body and pain medication allow I'm free to do with time what I will. The irony of this is that for the first time in my life time is far too valuable a commodity to be wasted. Instead of a fixed schedule that blocks life into segments, I'm at the whims of a capriciousness that forces me to literally seize the moment. Every able second must be utilized to it's fullest or I feel like I'm short changing myself.
In the days when I worked in theatre the separation of work and leisure was non-existent because the creation of art is a full time vocation. Time only existed in as it related to the movement of the hands of the clock or the passage of days. It was something to use to it's fullest, whatever you were doing. Talking about nothing, passive entertainment, and the other acceptable diversions just seemed like such a waste. Even now Eriana and I only have a television for use as a monitor for our D.V.D. and video machines. For us that is the major concession to our illnesses, accepting that there are moments when we can not function to the fullest of our capacity, but still need something to provide stimulation when we are not capable of providing it for ourselves. It feels like such a last resort.
I'm having a hard time figuring out what my point in all this might be, but it all seems to centre around what we do with what we are given. Living up to our potential as a species. I don't feel like I'm superior or anything like that, and like I said before I'm sure most consider me the freak, but it appears that we live in a society which encourages people not to strive, but to accept. Have you ever noticed in oppressive regimes that the first peoples rounded up, or brought under state control are the artists? Is it because these people are the ones who will not be limited by the convention of acceptance, are not satisfied to just while away the hours without at least dreaming or listening? Maybe its because that lack of compliance leads to questioning, and the last thing that a dictatorship wants is people asking questions?
An artist is continually doing, even if not actively working, because every little experience is something that can be drawn upon for latter inspiration. Perhaps I'm different and should give up trying to understand why people are the way they are. The wonderful British playwright Harold Pinter wrote a short piece called "The Last To Go". In it two elderly men are talking about newspaper sales at a particular kiosk. For four pages of dialogue they say absolutely nothing more substantial then which paper sold last, and have you seen so and so. It remains to this day one of the most realistic pieces of theatre I have ever seen performed.
Well I hope you don't feel this was too much a waste of time.