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Backstory to: "Don’t Waste Wasting Time"
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Today, somewhere on this planet, a lucky b... person is planning a summer vacation. This piece is for you. And if you are not that lucky person, this piece is even more for you.
There is a lake on the east coast of South Africa. I remember it well, although I have not seen it since my family’s caravan camping trips there during the 1960s. The lake is still there (I checked on Google maps), but holiday cabins seem to have replaced the caravan site (I checked on Google satellite).
The lake’s water is black, hence its name. Swartvlei. The name as a description is only partially accurate. Swart means black in Afrikaans. But vlei in Afrikaans means marsh in English. This vlei is not a marsh, although it has marshy areas, especially where it empties its surplus water into the Indian Ocean.
The water is so black that all you see looking into the lake is the hi-def reflection of clouds, mountains and your face, depending on the angle of viewing. It also depends on the time of day because the afternoon breeze stirs up wavelets that wash reflections away. Behind the caravan site is a koppie (hill). I often climbed to the top to enjoy the bird’s-eye view of the toy caravans and midget holiday makers. And the huge reflections in the mirror-lake. From up there, I could see far and hear little. Vistas and silence.
The motor boat playground was on the far side of the lake. Our side was the fishing and rowing side. I don’t know if this was by formal decree or happenstance. That being so, one fisherman regularly putt-putted a small dingy from the far side to our side. We knew he was fishing because his fishing rod was always visible, even though he seemed to fish in a rather reclined position. Passing boats politely gave him a wide berth when they spotted his rod.
One supper time around the campfire, my father casually mentioned that the man in the putt-putt dingy did not have a reel on his fishing rod. Flabbergasted, we looked at our father. He had met the man ashore, and they chatted about this and that and vacations. The man explained that he had learned through trial and error what enabled him to relax on vacation. It was having a visible fishing rod in a dingy. A visible fishing rod kept nosey people and noisy boats away, allowing him to drift peacefully for hours, doing absolutely nothing.
Swartvlei is about six hours by car-and-caravan from my then-home town. That meant I, and my siblings, had six hours of sitting still and doing absolutely nothing. Except to watch the passing landscape. Sitting still and doing absolutely nothing was also something we often had to do when in the formal company of stiff grownups.
We did not have to pay to attend a retreat or buy a phone app to learn how to sit still and be quiet. That’s what parents were for, to teach kids how to sit and be quiet. Especially on long car journeys. (And no, back then parents could not subdue us with electronic gadgets and portable DVD players. There were none.)
But to fool people willfully with an unarmed fishing rod just to drift undisturbed in a dingy! Imagine that!
I was young then, and it baffled me that grownups needed an excuse to sit still, quietly doing nothing. The long, sit-still-and-be-quiet journey back home gave me ample time to ponder this paradox.
Too soon I became one of those grownups in need of a sit-still-and-be-quiet excuse. Which is why, I suppose, I will never forget the koppie above Swartvlei with its vistas of silence.
Below is the original blog post, first drafted in June 2013:
Don’t Waste Wasting Time
Do you feel guilty about wasting time? Here’s how to get over it.
Acknowledge that you are often not to blame for time wasted. Being caught up in time wasting situations, like traffic jams, is just a perk of modern life.
And because of our modern gadgets, we are now far more aware of what else we could be, or should be, doing with our time. Acknowledge that this awareness is not always a perk. More often, it is a curse.
Time was when we viewed moments of forced inactivity as simply... moments. And so we stayed in the moment instead of running with could be and should be.
Don’t waste your wasted time. Re-imagine it; then re-purpose it. Enjoy it, relax in it, share it, and learn from it. Above all, let it recharge you, not deplete you.
Then you can be even more productive when your time of forced inactivity is over.
Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.