Spare time

As a teacher, you can imagine the scorn I cop for the amount of holidays I am entitled to get.

I am baffled by this. It’s not like holidays are a mystical secret that only reveal themselves to a select few and I was one of the precious few recipients of the information. Like Moses hearing God’s Commandments or those flogs from The Beach. Indeed, anyone who has been schooled in our society should be aware of the breaks involved in the school system.

Because of this, I am forever taken off guard when approached with a fresh assault.

“Oh youse get heaps of holidays doncha?” Offered with a forked-green tongue, dripping in bitterness and resentment. The sentiment lingering in the air as if I had betrayed this person for the last time. Honestly, save this crap for truly shocking discoveries alone. Like you find our your best friend steals from the local grocers – “oh how could you?” – or another friend avoids paying tax because of some unintelligible loophole – “mate, are you sure that’s legal? – or your sister becomes a stripper – “really?” All of those would suit the aforementioned approach because you have found out a secret that, whilst not Earth-shattering, catches you off-guard and makes you feel like your two cents simply must be offered in a self-righteous tone.

What irritates me about the attack lies not only in its stupidity, but in its delivery.

“Oh,” “heaps,” “doncha,” all offered with a wink and a whispered voice. The implication is that they know what you’ve stumbled on, what you’re up to, but they won’t tell anyone else. This kind of melodrama would be better suited to being stuck in a lift with a strange man. You don’t know him but you can tell by his self-satisfied grin, messy attire and misleading phone call to his wife that he’s having an affair. It’s OK, mate, your secret is safe with me.

Well, at the end of the day, I suppose they’re right.

I do get a lot of holidays which, obviously, gives me a lot of time and time to reflect on, well, time.

I find time a curious dimension and human responses to it equally puzzling.

When I have very little of it, there’s nothing I would rather have.

When I have too much of it, I feel trapped, overawed, lost and insecure.

In those ways, time reminds me a little of parenting (you find being  apart from your children incredibly difficult, yet being with them as being tantamount to torture) or bondage.

During busy periods of my life I can easily waste precious minutes thinking of, and making lists for, all of the things that I would do when I had spare time. When the spare time would arrive, I would treat it like the arrival of a distant aunt. In dispatches you claim to want to see her but, in reality, her arrival is untimely, cumbersome, awkward and, ultimately, completely unproductive.

And so it is with our culture’s strange view of time.

We crave spare time – yet brag about being busy.

We admire bumper stickers instructing us to Carpe (the shit out of) DIEM – I assume you drop the “the” – yet spend countless hours trolling Facebook, wikipedia, Netflix or working.

LIFE IS SHORT and TIME FLIES yet so many of us refuse to simply enjoy the time we have and take it in for what it is worth. It is hard to MAKE EACH MOMENT COUNT when you are stressing about ultimately trivial matters like wardrobes, internet connections or reality television.

Time flies when you’re having fun and the weekend FLIES BY apparently every time we experience it.

At some point, perhaps, it is completely necessary for us to take time to make time.

To take time to sit. To think. To stare. To smile at nothing.

One response

  1. My wife is on April vacation this week. This very moment, she is probably sitting at the kitchen table preparing lessons or correcting tests. All that vacation time.
    Don’t get me started on the summers.

    04/23/2015 at 04:42

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