Monday 7 January 2013

Is having more time always a good thing?

 “Press 1 for sales, 2 for account enquiries, 3 for technical support, 4 If you need more time, 5 if -”
I can’t tell you what 5 is for, because my mind has stumbled and fallen headlong in love with 4.

Press 4 if you need more time.

Wow. How the hell do they do that? More to the point, how does the ‘more’ time come? Does it arrive as an extra hour on a pre-appointed day? Maybe it just sneakily drifts into your life, adding a few seconds here to a minute there. But no, that wouldn’t work. If you’ve got 65 minutes in a random hidden hour, you’re either going to burn the dinner or miss the train.

Maybe it’s more profound. Perchance by pressing 4 I might start to move through the universe at a slightly different speed. To have more time, would I need to move more slowly or more quickly? Have to admit, I get a bit confused when the cameramen on the tele explain how they achieved these incredibly slow motion shots of orca chowing down on baby seals by using super-fast film.

If I moved faster then I’d be travelling through more time than you, but it’d feel like I was losing time not gaining it. So if they’re going to deliver their promise that I’ll have more time, I need to be trudging through the universe at a slightly slower speed than everyone else. That way each moment would seem longer as I experience it.

What the bloomin' 'eck am I on about? Of course I know they don’t mean that by pressing 4 I’ll have more time. You must have thought I'd finally walked backwards through the fruit loop. How on earth could the pressing of a single button change my relationship with the entire history of the universe?

Unless … unless that button has the power of a religious experience. Now that’s more likely! If you can attain eternal life by doing something as simple as bowing to a suitable deity, there’s no reason I can see why pressing 4 might not offer something similar. Yeh, I’m going with that. Pressing 4 is far too significant an action to offer anything as trivial as a few extra minutes shoved into a moment.

No, clearly what they mean by asking ‘Do you need more time?’ is whether you feel you’ll have enough time shuffling around this mortal coil to fulfil your true destiny.

Well, we could all do with a bit more time. Couldn’t we?

To be honest, no. Personally speaking I’m not a great fan of extending our lifespans ad infinitum. For the last couple of years of his life, my dad completely lost his joy of life. It was painful to watch him clinging on for no other reason than his fear of the alternative. Modern medical science is capable of performing what in biblical times would have been considered miracles. We can bring people back from the dead. We can cure blindness and enable the lame to walk.

But sometimes, it’s just your time to go, and I hope that when mine comes, I’m allowed to drift lethewards in peace.

Not planning on it anytime soon though, because right now I’m loving living, and time is, as always, playing a massive role in my peace of mind and the happiness I’m feeling.

With the house to myself by 7:50 am, I've all the time that fills a long country day. Thankfully I love time and I love my work, so there’s no conflict there. Apart from relatively tedious domestic duties, there’s plenty of time to scribble nonsense; time to walk; time to stare into space.

Although it’s one of my favourite activities, I used to feel slightly guilty about the staring into space stuff, until l heard the brilliant writer Philip Pullman being interviewed on a high-fallutin’ BBC Radio 4 arts programme. When asked about his working day he replied:

“I just stare out of the window.”
“And then you write?”
“No, I just stare out of the window.”

When I heard that I exclaimed out loud: “Thank you so much!”, remembering how years before I’d asked my friend Yoda to teach me how to meditate.

“You're kidding me!" he replied, "There’s nothing I can teach you about meditating, mate. We’ve sat in this kitchen together day in day out for months, with you staring out of that window, lost, gone, tuned in and turned off all at once. You’re a Master meditator, mate.”

“Cor! Thanks! And to think I never knew!”

But I did know, if only I’d thought about it. As a child I’d become engrossed staring at a tiny clump of muddy grass for ages, feeling that somehow all life lay therein.

As the song says, ‘You never know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone!’ so it wasn’t until I lived in the USA that I discovered how much I needed time.

From having a glut of time living in Connemara, I was transported to an existence in California which offered no time. Every minute was taken. With no time to assimilate all the new things I was experiencing, and no time to catch up with myself, I gradually lost my mind over a period of 4 years.

Press 4 if you need more time.

Now I have the time to stand on my front step and watch the winter sunsets of the West of Ireland. So different to their splendid summer cousins, winter sunsets are no less spectacular.

In fact, I prefer them. Brash beetroot and crimson shafts of light bursting through pitch black rainclouds; the air calm; cows calling each other in the distance.

I stand there lost in wonder, until l realise I’m bloomin’ freezing.

Time to light the fire.

Do I need more time? Not right now.

I’ve all the time I need, I’m delighted to say.
Someone else can press 4.

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