Pensive

This one is a bit dark; it is an on-line ‘coming out’ on a personal problem. I have two goals in writing it:

  1. a) writing it out may help me solidify my thoughts on the topic
  2. b) I want to reach out to others who may have something similar to get their input and advice.

Over the years I have developed an anxiety about time, more specific: the management thereof. It is a sort of horror about time being wasted when it ought to always spent ‘doing something”. Sitting idle evokes angst. Every minute of the day is judged as being productive or not. Last night I ran around the house right up to bedtime doing things: taking out the trash; putting away the dishes; clearing off counters; doing laundry. While I did these things Someone sat on the couch watching TV while playing a game on his iPhone. I wasn’t making things up to do; these were tasks that arguably needed doing (especially taking the dumpsters to the curb). I sense he was aware of these matters; he was choosing to ‘chill’ after his long and tiring work day. The contrast between us raised in me emotions of mild resentment (dammit there’s work to be done!) but mostly bewilderment how he could relax knowing there were things that could be done. Mind! I didn’t see him as slothful and myself as proper; he seemed to be strong one and myself the neurotic – even ‘trapped’.

There isn’t an official diagnosis for this. There isn’t anything specific in the medical literature. The internet is full up with proposals. I read about ‘Time phobia’, and chronophobia, and “time anorexia”. Time anorexia or chronorexia gets my vote for this matter has at its heart anorexic properties of diligence, control, and fear of drifting from a punitive ideal.

This sense of ‘purpose’ to every minute is also demonstrated in my menu of podcasts. Nearly all of them are ‘intellectual” types. They are full up with history, science, medical matters, even politics – all ‘learning’ which is equivocal to time not squandered listening to silliness.

I wonder if this is how an Olympian figure skater feels in front the judges who are watch and critiquing every minute of my performance looking for less than stellar movements. To be not doing something would be like coming out in my skating costume only to just stand there. What would ‘they’ think?

Even the mundane things in my life are tainted by this anxious need for time not squandered. If I should watch TV I need to be doing something more/else – I just don’t sit.

This is not OCD: I don’t redo things nor do I make up things to do. Indeed there is always something that could be done. The point is can I allow myself to do nothing?

I won’t bother to write out the probable factors that contribute to time anxiety/anorexia. It’s more important to recognize the problem and start working on a solution. The goal is allowing myself to ‘waste time’ as it were. First, change the negative term to something less pejorative – “Quiet time” perhaps.

I think it is The Tao that says one can not make or lose Time but only spend it wisely or foolishly. Perhaps a better approach is to forgo the value judgment and let Time merely happen.

RU_Wasting_Time2