Friday, February 17, 2006

The Scarcest Resource

Playing off Ken's Alton Gansky post, I thought this comment by Jack Cavanaugh was very insightful and totally true of writing:

The swiftness with which time passes while writing can be scary at times too. When I'm writing, time flashes by, and with it go huge portions of my life. Which means the more I write, the more swiftly I'm racing to my death. The tradeoff, hopefully, is leaving behind a legacy of stories that will continue to live long after I'm gone. This isn't the kind of thing aspiring writers want to hear, but it comes with the territory.

Boy, no kidding. I'll be flowing in a chapter, or worse - struggling with one, and what had been ten o'clock p.m. has turned to three thirty a.m., and I'll have to be getting up for work in three and a half hours. Jack's dead to right on the trade-off as well, and that's hard to fathom for non-published writers (or even soon-to-be published writers like us). The desire to have a body of work at the end of a life to at least give the illusion that all the time spent was worth the opportunity costs... well, that's why writers write. It's also achieved by only a rare few.

If I got anything out of my BSEC degree at Auburn University, the notion of opportunity costs probably topped the list. All the other valuable, invaluable, or not-so-valuable things I could be doing with my time instead of what I'm choosing to do. For me, at least at this point where I don't have writing deadlines over my head - sometimes I do have job deadlines - the way I live with the trade is sacrificing sleep (and sometimes health), mostly, for writing. The time after work with my family, and especially with my children, is too valuable for me to simply disappear into my study to write. Sometimes sacrificing lunches or a couple hours on the weekend away from the family, I'll live with, but other than that, it's got to be sleep. Not to mention, my best writing hours tend to be between 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

More important than just to my writing or to any one thing that anyone does is the point I'm trying to get to, which is: TIME is really our most precious resource. When you think about it, we have money, material items, health, faith, hope, and love, friends, etc., but without time, none of it means anything. In fact, when it comes right down to it, time is all that we have in this fallen world. And we live on borrowed time. I realize I'm not breaking any new ground here - people have figured this out long before any of it dawned on me, but I feel impelled to write it. Probably because I hijack so much of my own by wasting it. Maybe someone else can benefit from my folly.

Our choices and everything we do must fit into the time that we have. Whether we love, hate, give, provide, play, argue, debate, work, enjoy, mourn, hurt, pursue passions (good and bad), relax, travel, achieve, educate, ail -- whatever we do, it all has to be within the time we have. Best then, if we use what we have wisely. And since each person has a different make-up, I believe that using time wisely is going to be different for each person.

If we had started our blog early enough, one of Ken's news oddities of the week may have been about a kid in Korea who went to a gaming center and played for 52 straight hours, even through calls from his mom, until he up and died from a heart attack after the 52nd hour. I've got an X-Box at home, and I work with people with similar gaming devices. This guy was sort of a joke at our work. How could a person be so stupid? Well, truth to tell, I'm probably not really that different. I could easily see myself getting caught up - actually I do get caught up in these basically pointless games when playing them either with my kids or by myself. And the hours just tick-tock, tick-tock by. More hours when I didn't write, or read God's word/pray, love my wife, watch my kids grow before my eyes, feed anyone, do anything for anyone except myself. Now, sometimes I need a diversion to unwind. Games, sports (playing or watching), blogging, or just vegging come to mind as things I do for that necessity. But I've got to watch myself. And it doesn't have to be games. It can be sports, movies, running, walking, sleeping, working, working out, being at church, reading, writing, and uh, notably sinful things... I can get caught up in a ton of things where I'm really wasting time because they're not what I really should be doing.

What I have to do is, I've got to factor in what the Will of God is for me -- as part of the Church, as part of my church, as a husband and father, and as an individual, and (I'm going to give myself this one) as a writer. There is so, so, sooooo much that I fail at, and if I listed my sins, it would require another couple or dozen blog sites -- but I'm not sure I have a greater sin than the monumental waste of time that, for the most part, I've lived. Instead of worrying about all that though, I've got to focus on Christ and go from there. It's extremely (I really can't put it into words) difficult for me to do this. I love myself so much, and I really don't mind wasting time on myself. But Christ is King, not me.

So at least I've come to the realization. Like I said, since I'm not breaking any new ground, I figure most people have a pretty good concept of this for themselves. But then, sometimes it's therapeutic for me to let my thoughts bubble out into this blog. So I've done it again. I've turned what started out to be a thoughtful and thought-out post into a diary of my personal crap. Too bad for the reader, I guess. I do apologize, but I'm also posting, because I still haven't learned Ken's Poopy-Doopy lesson.

Wow. It's early morning, and I already feel like I need a beer.


1 comment:

DugALug said...

Rich,

Save a round for me, I'll be joining you at the bar.

-Doug