Wth social distancing, we have been ensconced in our little worlds, to which we react with anger at the movement and social limitations the coronavirus response of government seems to provoke. We absorb every little nuance of the media explosion, unable to ferret out the reality from the misdirection. We sit in front of the tv and watch the talking heads expound on information which they would have difficulty explaining in private conversation. We catch sound bites of what seem like milliseconds that compete with well researched and finely constructed lengthy conversations. We would rather spend 30 minutes listening to 15 periods of two seconds of drivel than reading for 30 minutes a reasoned didactic presentation.
We say that our families matter to us. We say that we want to be happy, that we are looking forward to things slowing down, that we love peace and quiet. Yet we choose to spend the time we have in endless carping and complaining, chasing opinions that reinforce our prejudices. We choose to ignore the time opportunity given to us by the coronavirus. Odd to say that but its the reality. We have been given the opportunity to develop ourselves academically, intellectually, artistically, and in other areas that might lead to better jobs, more rewarding lives. We have the opportunity to deepen our relationships with family members if we only took the chance given by time. Instead most of us look for diversions outside of us that require squandering our time.
Time is an interesting component of life. We have a time limitation of an indeterminate amount. When the store is empty, its empty. We can’t fertilize and water it to grow more. Purchasing more is beyond the pale. We protect our money, we protect our reputations, we protect our property, but our time? We act like we have more than we need. There is no bargain that we can make to secure more. None of us are so important that we can justify extending our time.
Maybe the lessen to be learned from the coronavirus time issues revolve around setting limits on obligations. We are asked to give our time in any number of relationships, organizations, tasks, and other supplicants. Each are convinced that their requests should be acceded to and are more important than any others. Each request is connected, either directly or indirectly to some form of moral imperative. The phrases “you should”, “you must”, “you need to” and the like are attempts to impose an obligation that does not emanate from us but from the requesting party. Its at that point of a request that its necessary we address our addiction to obligations. We lack the fortitude to reply “I don’t want to…” This simple phrase repeated can invalidate any following request or demand for an explanation as to why the request is denied. One need not provide any other explanation other than “I don’t want to.” There is no argument that will overcome this response.
We can limit our activities, focusing on what is personally important without sacrificing the time. There is a story that a short time before his death, an ESPN interviewer requested some time from Kobe Bryant. The interview would have been a positive for his business but he declined to take the interview to be with his girls. Goes without saying!