27 November 2018

Too Much Time, Knowing Where You Stand, Taking Notes, Horrible Memories and Good Times

A few days ago I pointed out a grammar mistake in a comment on a message board. In response someone wrote that if that sort of thing "triggers" me I must have "too much time on (my) hands."
This got me thinking about what the proper amount of time one should have on their hands. Also, why are the guidelines for this nowhere published? Also, who decides the proper amount of time one should have -- on their hands? Yet another question: what should one do upon finding they have an excess of time -- on their hands. (And why is time on one's hands? Honestly, I don't get that.) I wish I knew the answer to these questions. I did find it interesting that the person who alerted me to having -- too much time on my hands, was able to make that determination based upon my having pointed out a simple grammar mistake. He must be an expert on time management. I wonder about this term and whether it is uniquely American. People in this country seem to love to be busy. They even brag about how busy they are. Why? Shouldn't we strive to have more leisure time? Time to think, reflect, ruminate, time for introspection? Plus if we are not terribly busy doesn't that mean we have time to do volunteer work, help others? I guess that could put us right back at being busy again. Americans take much less vacation than people in other first world countries. In many European countries workers get six weeks off. In the US you can be lucky to get two. Being busy isn't so great, sometimes it just represents poor time management. Also, couldn't it be that a person who keeps themselves busy, is trying to avoid being alone with their thoughts? Maybe being busy is fear based. You have time "on your hands" and you've got to face certain realties and contemplate who you are. Maybe people would rather be busy.

I was recently reminded of a conversation I had some years back. The person I was chatting with had just returned from visiting family in the south, Alabama, I think. Someone asked him about racists in that area and he pointed out that bigots there were very upfront about their prejudices. "It's not like here. Back there you know where you stand with your neighbor, here you don't." Yes I can well imagine how comforting it would be for an African American living in the Deep South to have a neighbor who has a Confederate flag sticker on his pick up and can occasionally be seen donning his white hood for a Klan meeting. Imagine that same African American moving to San Francisco. His neighbor is friendly, chats with him, invites him over for a barbecue, but he can't really be sure where he "stands" with this neighbor. Maybe all the friendliness is just a cover for a latent racist. Better to know for sure. By the same token if someone is lynching you, you damn well know "where you stand" with that person, while that person who cheerily greets you everyday may really be up to no good.

When I'm otherwise occupied I'll often come across topics that I want to write about on this here blog. Then when a moment presents itself when I can write I can't think of a bloody thing to write about. I should start talking notes. Everywhere I go, everything I do, I should carry a notebook in be prepared to jot down what's up. I frequently think of things, some very clever things when I'm in bed shortly before dozing off. I assure myself that there's no way I'll forget this idea, or joke, or line. I always do. Sometimes I remember that I had a very interesting notion the night before and go through fits of agony trying to remember what the hell it was. So there's one place that I should take notes in bed before the sandman arrives.

Sometimes I remember the exact feeling I had as a little kid when my schizophrenic mother would yell at me (not about me) while I was in my room playing. It was an awful voice, angry and loud spewing utter nonsense that had nothing to do with me. It was impossible to ignore and equally impossible to digest. I just had to take it and good lord it was terrible. I want to time travel and find that eight year old me and give me a hug and say it's okay. Poor kid. That was a childhood that fucked me but good for a lot of years. I've spent a lifetime in recovery. But people have dealt with worse so I don't complain. I just carry on. What else can you do?

I've got a lot of happy memories. My wife and children alone have provided tons (memories don't probably come in tons or pounds, but I ain't gonna worry about it). Most of my late teens and 20s were a riot of fun, laughter, parties and good times. I've done a lot of work that I've enjoyed and have fond memories of students and co-workers. I have great memories of travels, vacations, sports events attended, sports played, movies seen and friends and relatives. It's hard to feel the warmth of those memories when I'm depressed. But I'm not depressed now, so it's all good.

Life is a balancing act and you can never have too much time.

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