I Do Not Have 'Extra Time' (And that is a good thing!)
I recently mailed out a seventeen page handwritten letter to one of my new pen pals.
She had made the comment on her blog that she guessed I had a lot of extra time. [Okay a little honesty here. I have been working on writing on time for the entire month of July. The letter was written way back in the first weeks of July, and has been answered. I need to write back and that has taken me way too long to do already. I do not know if this will make sense to anyone else, and I would appreciate any feedback others may have. One last thing the response to my letter was four typewritten pages and over fifty pages of her blog postings. That was a very special response!]
The funny thing is that I used to think I was special and that the typical standards of time did not apply to me. I am not talking about my time in prison; I am talking about all the way back to high school.
I thought I was special, and time should be accountable to me. If something needed to be done by a certain time, if I did nothing else but work on that particular project, anything else that I should have also been working on (or paying attention to) was 'frozen' in time and would be there waiting for me when I was ready to deal with all the other issues that I was ignoring.
Well it has taken nearly thirty-five years including the last nine in prison to realize that no one in this whole wide world has any more time, extra or otherwise, than anyone else.
But this is not a bad thing. It should be a liberating concept. Why you ask? Let me see if I can give a few examples of how thinking others have more time than you do is wrong thinking and also what happens when you feel that you can have more time than anyone else.
The first thing to realize is that no one is promised more than the present minute you are living in. The future is just that. It may or may not be something you are there to experience. I am not being morbid, but given this premise, it is tough to argue that any person's time is more valuable than anyone else's time.
Each minute has exactly the same value and what we decide to do with it should be valued by anyone that we choose to spend that time on or with. And more importantly, we must be proud with what we are doing with our time.
I am awed by the number of people that have taken their time to read my ramblings. I am certainly honored by the people that have taken the time to send comments on what I write. Yes it may be easier for all you free people to drop a quick e-mail, and I have to type, proof and reprint all my writing on a very slow daisy wheel typewriter, but it still takes all of us time. I value my time and when I write stuff for the blog, or take time to type or handwrite a personal letter, I am doing so at the expense of doing something else.
Over the last month, I have been more stressed out than usual, and the best way for me to deal with this seemed to be to dive into the printed word. In the last month I have read over eighteen books, five in the last eight days.
I have kept up my walking schedule, one hour each day, with a second hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My pace averages out to four miles an hour, forty miles a week. I have still taken a shower each day, eaten three or four meals each day, some from the chow hall, some I prepared and before I know it instead of daily letters to my editor he only gets two in fourteen days.
What happened he asks? Where is my daily fix of the trials and tribulations of Prison Pete?
Well I am still serving each and everyday in prison. And thankfully I get to count each day the same as the rest of the world. Sixty seconds in each minute, sixty minutes in each hour and lastly twenty-four hours in each day
I dive into a novel and finish it off in one day, well there goes my day. The main reason I wrote out the seventeen page letter by hand, was I started it after lights out, 11:00 PM, and I could not use the typewriter at that hour. I wanted to get it in the mail. I sacrificed at least two hours of reading and probably one hour of sleep to get the letter out.
I am not looking for pity or making it out that I am better than anyone else, I realize that I am giving my time to writing this letter, so I better make sure it is going to be worth the time of the person I am writing to, to read it. Since both my time and the recipient's time is of the same value, it should be worthy of both our times.
In hindsight, all of us can easily find time we spent doing (or not doing) something that we wished we could change. We can not do that. I think one of the things the internet has brought about is the ability for some people to waste other people's time by flooding e-mail boxes with useless messages.
Just because someone takes time to write something does not mean that it is worth your time to read it. One walk into the mega-bookstores will prove that no one could read everything written. That is why I am honored by the time people take to read what I am writing. I work at being sure what I write will be worth your time.
Remember, if someone spends some of their time on you, it means something to them, and is a valuable gift. You should feel honored that they spent the time. Please accept your time as being valuable too. Time is probably the one commodity that knows no boundaries as respect race, creed, color, sex etc. It is what it is. It is all we have. Each of us is in control of how we spend it.
Make time the gift it is and give it lovingly to those around you.