Time is always in short supply. So is that why people seem to use hardly any of it to do the important things in their lives? (Yes, you've read all this before, but it's been playing on my mind a great deal lately, so I'm afraid you're going to have to read it here again.)

We seem to have lost much of our appreciation of the value of waiting for things, of giving processes time to develop and mature. Government initiatives are deemed unsuccesful and abandoned a year after being implemented. Service in restaurants is considered to be good only if it's quick. People who've ended a relationship expect to be able to get over their sorrow a day or two after the break-up. Even the word 'slow' is seen as derogatory when describing a film or a book.

I'm as guilty as anyone else. At the end of each evening spent staring at an empty page, I'm ready to explode with the frustration brought on by my inability to write my entire novel in one sitting, right now, today, this very instant.

It's been said that the journey is as important as the destination. Maybe we could also say that the waiting is as important as the event. According to a homily I read the other day, one of the purposes of Advent is to make people focus on the state of waiting. This isn't simply a device to heighten the appreciation of the feast at the end, but a way of raising one's awareness of being in a state of readiness, a state of constant preparedness... which reminds me of the wonderful Into Great Silence I saw earlier this year, about the life of the monks of the Grande Chartreuse. They took bags of time to do everything they did, and even though by many people's standards they didn't do very much on any given day, I'd argue that they accomplished a great deal during every hour they spent on their routines and rituals.

Maybe time is another commodity that follows the 'use it or lose it' principle: we need to take more of it if we want to have more of it. Is that too trite to be true?


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