Hi there! As with last week, I’m continuing to experiment with the theme of this newsletter. I hope you find some use for it. Good, bad or indifferent, feel free to let me know!
Reading time: 5 minutes
Part 1 - Essay
“Of all ridiculous things, the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work.” - Soren Kierkegaard
The Irish pub is a sanctuary — an escape from the world of hurry-hurry.
Take your time. Relax and enjoy yourself. That’s the implied message from my local anyway.
Shelters from busyness exist elsewhere too. In China, there’s the teahouse. In France it’s the café. Every civilised country has somewhere to hide — places of refuge where we can hang out, without high value put upon every minute.
Then there’s the flip side — The fast food joint. It represents the Time Saver rather than the Time Savourer. Unlike the pub, tea house or café, the fast food joint symbolises a space for people in a hurry.
In the fast food joint, the message is explicit: Hurry the fuck up!
There’s an abundance of other HTFU! monuments too: the supermarket, the microwave oven, toxic pesticides and so on.
And yet it's odd.
Despite the growing number of Time Saver gadgets at our disposal, we appear to be getting increasingly busier. It seems, the cult of busyness is a modern phenomena, where we’re constantly doing at the cost of being.
But it’s not.
Millennia before the now-tired adage “time is money,” Seneca warned:
People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
"Set yourself free for your own sake; gather and save your time, which till lately has been forced from you, or filched away, or has merely slipped from your hands… Certain moments are torn from us… some are gently removed… others glide beyond our reach. The most disgraceful kind of loss, however, is that due to carelessness."
Spend Or Save
If the pandemic lockdown has taught me anything worthwhile, it is that I too have been careless. But now, with scant opportunity to spend money, I’ve taken comfort in the forced realisation of how little is actually required to be happy.
I’ve found myself asking:
Do I really need to be this busy?
Other than renting out my time in pursuit of money, what other ways could I spend it?
The pubs have been, more or less, closed since the start of the pandemic. So whiling the time away down my local is clearly not an option.
But Herman Hesse knew of other ways - Timeless ways, sure-fire-winning alternatives to busyness. The sort to be found in abundant, but much neglected little joys:
These little joys are so inconspicuous and scattered so liberally throughout our daily lives that the dull minds of countless workers hardly notice them. They are not outstanding, they are not advertised, they cost no money!
A stretch of sky, a garden wall overhung by green branches, a strong horse, a handsome dog, a group of children, a beautiful face — why should we be willing to be robbed of all this? Whoever has acquired the knack can, in the space of a block, see precious things without losing a minute’s time.
The problem is simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it — wisely or foolishly.
Right now I’m being foolish. But I’m trying to be wise.
Part 2 - Good News
4-Day Working Week
Jacinda Ardern has been championing a four-day working week as way to rebuild New Zealand after Covid-19. The Prime Minister believes flexible working options can boost productivity and domestic tourism, while improving work/life balance.
Exciting New Book
Artist Jenny Odell is working on a new book. It promises to do for time what her last book, How To Do Nothing, did for attention. Saving Time promises to be an exploration of time, showing how capitalism has structured our understanding of it. It will also invite us to imagine other more generous and generative constructions of time.
Part 3 - Some Nice Things
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” - Lao Tzu
The traffic-trolling geese reminded me of this…
(Trigger Happy TV was such a brilliant show! I dare you to resist going down that rabbit hole.)
Before the cold snap bites.
In an abandoned quarry, I picked the last of the wild strawberries. Oh the cuteness!
Thanks a million!
Until next week, take care.