We live life in the fast lane. Everybody is in a hurry-up mode. We have express lanes, express trains, express checkout, express mail, express delivery, instant coffee, instant noodles, instant messaging, fast foods, fast banking, fast cars, and anything you can think of, including express weddings, instant diploma, and fast money. All of these are designed to save us time.
Who has time, and who wants to wait anyway?
The other day, I was really in a hurry. As I was preparing for the day, I hastily brushed my teeth and skipped the flossing (I know my dentist will not be proud of me) and was able to save about 2 minutes. I skipped breakfast altogether and shaved off another 15 minutes.
I zoomed down the Interstate pushing my car speed a little over the speed limit (OK it was only 5-9 miles/hour above the limit), and swerved through lanes, and was able to save about 3 minutes of commute. I arrived just in time for the early morning Grand Rounds. I snatched a banana at the foyer before entering the auditorium and ate it while listening in the meeting.
What followed the conference was a very busy day with lots of patients to see. During lunch I grab a fast-food type of meal in the hospital cafeteria and ate in front of a computer in the doctor’s lounge, while doing some of my paper works, office tasks and hospital documentation. I believe I saved about 20 minutes doing my work while eating (or inhaling?) my food, in my down time.
Call it fast (like Flash) or call it efficiency, but I did finish all my work in time and I was able to go home on time. Again I zoomed down the highway and again cut down 2 minutes of travel time. I am thankful that traffic in Des Moines does not crawl like in Manila, New York City or Los Angeles, where precious time are wasted sitting idle in traffic.
My wife asked me for an errand and so I stopped at the grocery store, on my way home. I was lucky for a car was pulling out of the parking lot and I slipped into its spot which was near the entrance, and thus probably saving 1 minute on searching for a parking slot. After getting what I needed at the store, I headed to the express checkout lane and saved 2 more minutes.
I arrived home safe and sound, after a fast and furious day. All in all, I saved 45 minutes during that day.
Now, what did I do with all those minutes saved? I spent it all – all 45 minutes, and then some more, another 75 minutes – in front of the TV! I usually don’t watch television much, but it is the NBA playoffs. At least, that is my excuse.
But this kept me thinking. Isn’t it ironic that we always complain that we don’t have enough time and yet we waste whatever time we have, recklessly? I think it is not as important how much time we save, than what we do to that time.
I really should spend my time doing more things of significance, like practicing that piano duet piece with my daughter, or work on my third language, so I don’t have to call the Spanish interpreter so often at work, or maybe just fix the long overdue pesky dripping bathroom faucet.
I will. After the NBA finals.
(*photo from here)