How Are You Using Your Time?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I’m not as productive as I’d like to be. Who is?

I spend a good amount of time reading.

And I’ve been writing. Drawing. Painting.

I go for the occasional walk.

Pretty productive.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time with my boys. That’s always good.

Not all my time is spent so wisely, though.

I spend hours sitting and thinking.

Spending too much time in the past.

It’s good to learn from the past.

But not to live there.

I need to get out and do more.

The Pursuit of Money

Chasing a winged dollar

In high school I had to take a “Careers” class. I only remember two things from that class:

  • We watched a video on sexual harassment one day. The video warned about giving “meaningful looks.” What the heck are “meaningful looks?” I was a teenage boy. And now I was terrified of being sued for looking at the girls around me.
  • Another day we took an aptitude test. My results said I should be an artist. No way. I couldn’t make money as an artist. I enjoyed writing and drawing, but I didn’t think I could support a family doing those things.

I went to college to be an engineer. That didn’t last long. Before long I was just taking the classes that sounded fun. I only went when I felt like it. My grades suffered.

I got a letter from the college. They told me to take a term off to think about my life. Then I could ask to come back.

I wasn’t going to beg to come back. Forget that!

I got a call center job. I hated it, but the money was okay. I spent the next few years bouncing from one call center job to another.

Five years later I went back to school to learn Japanese. I decided to take some other fun classes while I was at it. After a year I started getting more serious. It didn’t take long to burn out after that.

Years later I was out of work. By then I’d gotten married. I had a son. I applied at the call centers I’d worked at before. They never got back to me. I didn’t have any other experience.

My wife said I should go back to school. I’d been wanting to for a while. I majored in Computer Science. I was excited at first, but my heart wasn’t in it for long.

My grades went downhill. My adviser told me I’d have to change majors.

I left school instead. I applied to an online university. They wanted me to get a computer certification before enrolling.

I started studying for the certification tests. I couldn’t focus. I was so bored.

I went to college for six-and-a-half years. I have zero degrees. There were some fun and interesting parts, but mostly it was a waste of my time. And not just because I didn’t get that parchment.

I worked in call centers for a few more years. My last job laid me off. A few months later I was separated and living in my mom’s basement.

I’ve spent twenty years pursuing things I thought would make me money, and making myself miserable. I’d say it was a waste, but at least I’ve learned something from it:

DON’T WORK JUST FOR MONEY.