What are You Doing With Your Six Hours?

Well, what ARE you doing?

First off, let me apologize for yesterday's apparently ill-conceived "Drunken Idle" contest. It has since occurred to me that informing people that when they comment on your blog, you will ridicule them for your own entertainment and the entertainment of others is probably not the best way to get people to comment. Thanks however go to the brave few who did.

I have (barring weekends) six hours of every day that is my own. I get off work (and most people do) at roughly six o'clock. Some of you get off at five but if you figure commuting/grocery shopping on the way home etc., you end up at home and own your time at about 6pm. To get a good night sleep, I need to be at least headed to bed somewhere in the neighborhood of midnight. Again, I think that's probably pretty standard. Most people watch the late news, maybe a few minutes of Letterman or Leno and then drift off to slumbertown.

The mornings are pretty much filled with getting dressed, making coffee, letting the dog out (that's not some figurative allusion to something else, I mean actually letting my canine out of the house to pee), helping Ella get ready for her day, and then heading to work. Again, I am assuming (and we all know my track record on that) that most of you do the same.

So that leaves me (and most of you) six hours from 6pm until midnight that we get to program for ourselves. That's a little depressing isn't it. Most of us (if we are lucky) we'll work from the time we are in our early twenties until we are in (at least) our sixties so that we can enjoy the fruits of those labors for six hours every day. I find that putting a number on it like that keeps the idea fresh in my mind. No matter what I am doing, in the back of my head, I'm thinking, "Is this is a wise use of my six hours?"

I first formulated this thought about a month ago, but the concept of time (and our limited quantity of it) has always been one of my main worries. Do you remember when you were a child, and the wait between Christmases or birthdays, or even until the final bell of the school day seemed like an eternity? Then as we get older it seems not only days, but years rush by. The phenomenon actually seems (at least for me) to speed up for every year that I live. Why is that?

My older brother and I were discussing this one night, and he told me how he had come to understand it: When you are young, a year or two (or four or five) is the entirety of your experience. Therefore every day is a significant fraction of your lifetime. But everyday that you live is another day to add to the balance, therefore lessening the value (fraction-wise) of each individual day.

Let me put it this way: Today is less of your life than yesterday was, tomorrow will be even less. It's not that time is speeding past us, but that we are reevaluating our understanding of time by experiencing more of it.

Did I blow your mind? Take a moment, I'll wait here until you're ready.

Everybody with us now? Alright.

That brings us back to the six hours. Every evening when you come home from work, you have the same amount of time available to you that you did yesterday, but for you it will past faster. This inherently makes each evening more valuable than the one before it. If people would really consider this idea, not just listen and move on, but genuinely weigh the merits of it, internalize it and make it their own, the world would be a drastically different place.

So what am I gonna do with my six hours? Probably watch some TV, make sure I see my friends as much as possible, love my wife, call my family, and share some of my brain droppings here on the internet. Also, I'm going to take a long hard look at what I'm doing with the other eighteen hours. Sure, I can't really get away with dropping the sleep time or cutting out bathing, but I can ensure that I never hold a job I despise, or one that doesn't value me and my six hours as much as I do. This is where we (those of us that understand the problems of time) can make a difference in the world. Let us pursue the things that we ought to pursue. Not another dollar (although money is important, and can make those six hours at the end of the day much more enjoyable), but a balanced life. One where our time spent with family and friends, with games and laughter is just as important to us (more important really) than the time we are on the clock. Let us find employment that lifts us up, sending us home for those six hours excited about life, rather than downtrodden by it.

It's a tall order, but we can do it. We do have to start trying, though. We're running out of time.