Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Have we no time to lather?

Conveniences are everywhere. Some would consider them shortcuts, others consider them headaches. Nonetheless, they exist.

Don’t wait in line at the post office for stamps when you can use the electronic vending machine. There’s no need to leave your car to make a bank transaction with the teller. There’s ebay, amazon, and other online shopping trickery. Self check-outs. ATMs. Frozen dinners. Indoor plumbing. E-ticketing. Car washes. Just-Add-Water pancake mix. Don’t even get me started on fast food drive-thru windows.

Not only do these conveniences exist, and a plethora more where those came from, but these systems are ingrained into our way of thinking. A silly thing like fixing a glass of water no longer requires a trip outside to a water pump, well, or river. You just turn on the faucet and ta-da! We live in a modernized society and the convenience of enjoying a refreshing glass of water does not demand planning or physical effort.

The driving force behind most modern conveniences is the concept of saving time. Don’t wait in line here, do it yourself there, click here, type there. Every action in our day is shaving off seconds, minutes, hours, who-knows-how-much time to keep to ourselves for later. So we send our emails and cook our frozen lasagnas and save, save, save.

I once again found myself having a moment of clarity while in the bathroom. Easy reader(s), easy - I was washing my hands. I pumped, pumped, pumped on the soap dispenser. I stared into my palm, and snarled my lip at the sight of the pile of light blue foam soap in my hand. I couldn’t help but think....

Have we no time to lather?

At what point does the concept of convenience reach extreme? If I continue with the theory of convenience as a way to save time, exactly how much time am I saving by not having to lather? Perhaps if some divine power swooped in from the sky and was able to tell me, “Brook Ellen, you have spent a total of eleven hours of your life lathering your hands,” then I might be able to fully appreciate the gravity of working soap into bubbles.

There are certainly modern conveniences that do seem to be worth their weight in awesome. For example, we no longer have to hunt for food or chop firewood. Now many people actually consider doing these things “vacation,” alas that is for another post, indeed.

We save our time, and for what? To spend time with our family? Friends? Hobbies? Facebook stalking? It seems we save time and use it towards some other time-saving task, and if you’re lucky, you save a little time to sleep. Do you realize there are still people who use a scrub board to do their laundry? Imagine what kind of time THAT would take. Aren’t you lucky? Go back to sitting in traffic now.

Time is fickle. It can be a most trusted companion or a heartless enemy. One can learn in time. Trust in time. Grow bitter in time. Forgive in time. You can not have enough time. Time can be cut short. Time can go slow. Time can fly. Save as much time as you can, and then try to do something with it.

My New Year resolution was about making the most of my time. Oh, right, New Year’s resolutions. Remember those? It’s that promise you swore to keep to yourself about six weeks ago. I have certainly been making time for more posts, aren’t you lucky my reader(s)? But it brought me to the conclusion that there is an absolute difference between saving time, and making time. Perhaps answering a few emails on your Blackberry will save you some time, or perhaps you could make that time for you, your loved ones, or watching the Netflix you've had on top of the DVD player for two months.

So go, bundle your conveniences. Make your time yours. And please, don't forget to wash your hands.

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