Gulliver’s Pocketwatch

 

The Lilliputians in “Gulliver’s Travels”, remember those little guys?

 

At one stage of the story (the actual book, not the horrible Jack Black film version), they note that Gulliver’s pocket watch is probably a god. This is because he rarely does anything without consulting it. He calls it his oracle and says it appoints the time for every action of his life.

 

Travels” was written over 200 years ago. [Great book by the way!]. The Lilliputians’ observations about the watch were Jonathan Swift’s commentary about the “modern” preoccupation with time. And has anything changed in 200 years? Gulliver sure sounds like me sometimes: preoccupied with routines and deadlines.

 

Of course, life wouldn’t flow so well if we DIDN’T keep some kind of order to it and use time well. Still, our preoccupation with time is one of the factors contributing to our life of hurry hurry hurry. I like this quote from Carl Honore’s incredible book, In Praise of Slow:

 

“The toll taken by the Hurry-up Culture is well-rehearsed. We are driving the planet and ourselves toward burnout. We are so time-poor and time-sick that we neglect our friends, families and partners. We barely know how to enjoy things anymore because we are always looking ahead to the next thing…

 

“(E)ach of us should try to make room for Slowness. A good place to start is with reassessing our relationship with time … Try to think of time not as a finite resource that is always draining away, nor as a bully to be feared or conquered, but as the benign element we live in. Stop living every moment as if Frederick Taylor [inventor of the Time and Motion philosophy] were hovering nearby, checking his stopwatch and tut-tutting over his clipboard…”

 

Feeling hurried? Stressed? Take a deep breath. Let it out slow. Is your horizon the walls of your room? The computer screen in front of you? Go to a window and focus on something far away from where you are. If your horizon is the next office building 30 feet away from you, head out to a park in your lunch break and do “nothing”. Is your watch, your calendar, your deadlines a god to you, a cruel and demanding taskmaster? Rebel: smell a rose, marinate a steak, take a walk with your kids, read a short story for pleasure and not for learning the craft of writing…

 

May Time once again become our environment, our servant, our instrument and not our god.

 

 

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