Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wasting Time

Recently my dear friend Carol gave me some bath salts with this quote:  "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time" ~ Bertrand Russell.  I love this quote and it also reminds me that although I wish I always believed this truth I still often find myself falling into the trap of "busy is better".  After all when faced with the question "What did you do today?" I often find myself listing off the various chores I've performed with mounting pride as the list becomes longer and more involved.  In my head I hear the other mothers gasp in admiration  - "You mean you cleaned your house, mowed the lawn, read a book, planted a garden, ran three miles, painted a chair, and baked a 12 layer cake today?"  wow!  And while this list* might* be a bit of an exaggeration, I promise you the feelings are all very real.  I mean I don't think I've ever replied to the above question with the answer: "Nothing."  " I chose to do absolutely, positively nothing today and it was fabulous!" 

One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, wrote an article in Sunset magazine about this very topic.  She argues that in order to be a creative person we must fight for downtime. 

               "The good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for:  enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty."

I appreciated talking with the sweet girl who recently did my hair.  I was asking her how many hours a week she works and she explained her schedule (around 30 hours a week) and said that in order to keep her creative edge she can't work any more than that.  She wants to stay fresh for her clients.  I felt like I wanted to jump right out of the chair and give her a hug!  Here is an artist who truly understands the gift she has and how to keep it fresh and new.  I sunk back into my chair relaxed in the knowledge that I was in good, well-rested hands.

Anne says:
                 "I think it's going to hurt.  What fills us is real, sweet, dopey, funny life.  I've heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you're incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour.  I promise you, it is there.  Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it.  It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.

I for one need the hour.  Wasted time.  And I think every now and then I need a day.  Wasted time.  And sometimes I might need an entire weekend.  Waste. 

One day soon, given enough time and practice, when I'm confronted with the eternal question: "What did you do today?"  I will say with a peaceful smile:  "Oh, nothing - just wasted time".



  1. Loved this post! I was just musing about why I feel the need to push myself to be busy. I can't remember the last day I did nothing but waste the day away happily. It is so important to get that time, whether it's half an hour or a weekend. In pushing myself to be busy, sometimes I get so overwhelmed I get very little actually done.

  2. Hi Carolyne! I agree with you about getting overwhelmed and getting little done. Sometimes if I just give myself permission to chill out then I have enough energy/creativity to really be productive. Here's to making rest a priority!:)