Noilly Prattle: Killing Time

Monday, December 1, 2014

Killing Time

      Looking for a killer opening line...something not too overtly pretentious, grabs the attention, but can't think of a damn thing! The synapses aren't snapping and crackling the way they used to. Soon to be 73 and wondering what I'm still doing here. Staying alive—since the alternative doesn't seem all that attractive in the absence of a terminal illness. But, no, that is far too cynical, even for me, and not even very funny. Still, the question does pose itself, especially in the whirlpool depths of insomniac nights.

the Leaning Tower of Burano
       Recently, a younger 40-something creative guy asked me what I do with my time. People of that age can't imagine what not having to get up at the crack of dawn, stumble around in the semi-dark, swallow some breakfast that you aren't even hungry for and then lurch off to earn your daily bread is like. True, that. Still, the question caught me off guard and I just shrugged. “Hobbies. Just chilling?”, he asked. The implication is: “What do you do with all that time on your hands?” It's a fair question, I have to admit.

       True, it's a fact, if your in your seventies, you do have a lot of time. In fact, time is really all you have. Come to think of it, time is really all any of us have. What we do with it is what differentiates one from another. Our conditioning tells us that we should be doing something productive with our time, accomplishing something. What that usually means is that we should be getting compensation for the production and accomplishment, generally in the form of monetary remuneration. The bigger the remuneration, the greater the accomplishment. In other words, one is not wasting one's time.

       If, however, you are in your seventies, by that definition you have a lot of time to waste since you aren't likely to get any impressive remuneration for your productive capacity and efforts. And why would you want the hassle of running the rat race all over again to gain more remuneration if you're comfortable without it? I would consider that “wasting” what time I have left.

       In an otherwise silly formulaic romantic comedy of the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again or vice versa variety, there was a good line. Daughter asks widowed father why he surrounds himself with several “girlfriends” instead of choosing just one. He responds that no one could replace her mother and now he's just fooling around, “killing time”, presumably until he can rejoin her. It's a cliché, but it's very pleasant to kill time: time to “smell the roses”, take a walk in the mountains on a sunny afternoon, getaway to a hot spring in the winter with the snow falling on your bare shoulders, experiment with the creative pursuits that delight you... And, yes, think wistfully about the twilight years, wondering, occasionally, when and how it will all finally end.

       But until then, I'm just killing time.

Paris: Indignant con woman caught in the act.
She drops a ring on the ground near you, approaches,
and asks if it's yours to get close enough
to pick your pocket. This mark took her
ring and walked off with it, with her, angrily, in hot pursuit.

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