Charles Schultz called happiness a warm puppy and many would say people waste their time on pets. I keep staring at my laptop screen for long durations and I’m sure Specky, my wife thinks I could do more if I just start typing out whatever I type out most of the time. But I love staring at a blank screen and never think it is a waste of time. I think a blank screen gives me more happiness than one with a sentence or two that keep jeering at my inability to add more words or sentences there. Wasting time is the simplest activity that makes me smile.
Look at the anchors in TV debates today and you’ll be tempted to think they are wasting time as they go rewinding the same question with a word or two replaced and the poor spokesperson at the receiving end keeps gulping nothingness and mumbling his defences without any audible conviction there. The anchor obviously derives a lot of happiness in his time-wasting repetitions as he knows one these time-wasters just might pull the answer he is looking for out of the nervous reticence of his victim… and when the anchor is able to, you really must see that precise moment when a wickedly happy smile floats in and disappears behind his professional poker face.
Something tells me that happy moments for one are time-wasting flashes for another. But this is just one side of the story. Let me tell you about the time I was to appear for my ISCE examination and was comfortably cocooned in a spare sofa in my room reading ‘The girl on the boat’ by P G Wodehouse. My father just ambled along at the precise moment as I completed reading the characterisation of Bream Mortimer as being “tall and thin. He had small bright eyes and a sharply curving nose. He looked much more like a parrot than most parrots do. It gave strangers a momentary shock of surprise when they saw Bream Mortimer in restaurants, eating roast beef. They had the feeling that he would have preferred sunflower seeds.” I was in a different world when a pair of wildly agitated hands snatched the book from my hands and a noticeably frazzled voice announced, ‘Stop wasting time. Your board exams are in another couple of days.’ Of course I got up from my time-wasting sofa seat to slowly shuffle to my creaky but stubbornly steady study chair to open a book of biology. I remember seeing the dog-loving Wilhelmina “Billie” Bennett from that Wodehouse novel appear on the pages where the digestive system of Rana tigrina was supposed to be. I also remember picking up phrases like “the offensive jauntiness of the man who has had a cold bath when he might just as easily have had a hot one” from some Wodehouse novel to quote in my essays in the language paper and scoring a one pointer! So what appeared to be a waste of time to my father became a double source of happiness for me. A smile doesn’t cost a bomb but its source may have been perceived as a time-wasting activity by others.
So if you really want to know the simple reasons for happiness, know how to master wasting time. The best in the world have known how to do what appears as wasting time… our politicians have done it when they were in college and spent hours in the student union office or leading rallies against some policy thrust on them by the VC… writers have done it by reading fiction than focus on text-books… sportsperson do it all the time until they go home announcing their inclusion in the State team… actors were all once wasting their time in school plays or being in a street-theatre group… people tweeting in contests to win latest gadgets and trips abroad and so on.
Now, if you’ve read this far, you’re genuinely interested in joining the gang of time-wasters and you must know that:
- Time wasters just do what they love doing even they are not supposed to do what they love doing.
- Time wasters bounce back to their favourite activity even after being punished to have been doing it.
- Time wasters don’t look for power, position, and money but know intuitively that it all comes if they stick to what appears as time wasted to others.
- Time wasters don’t look back with remorse or shame but always with a hint of a smile.
Believe me, time-wasting is a dose of refreshment, brightness & cheer to the lives of people who love it. I have and still do waste a lot of time but it invariably gives me some sort of a return gift in the form of heartfelt happiness… and a lot of readers who come, read, smile, and comment.
22 March 2015