Saturday, 24 January 2009

Time’s an interesting thing, isn’t it? There are so many things you can do with it. You can spend it and buy it, kill it and waste it, use it and lose it, and it’s always there. One of the most important things to learn about life is how to manage it (that’s what I’ve been told, anyway. As far as I know, the only thing time is, is irritating. You close your eyes for three seconds, and eight hours just disappear. They call it “sleep”. I call it an international conspiracy, probably concocted by the CIA/FBI/aliens from Mars/Xenu). If I had a penny for every time I got shouted at for “wasting valuable time” I’d be rich enough to bribe Cambridge into giving me an offer. I’ve never wasted a day in my life. Sure, there was the forty eight hours spent hunched over the same laptop, pausing in the middle only for sleep, food and bathroom breaks, but would you call watching seasons one and two of prison break a waste of time?

Free- I mean, study periods are brilliant examples of how each and every one of us uses time to our benefit. The last time I had free periods, they were at the end of the day, so I took the opportunity to engage in some physical exercise. Does it matter that the exercise consisted of walking home? (The answer, out of interest, is ‘Of course not!’).

But in essence, time is only one thing. Time is change. It represents stuff becoming different. Most of the important things in our lives happen because of time, like death, decay, war, the release of yet another iPod, and the latest issue of OK! magazine.

The difference between now and a few moments ago is exactly that, a few moments. But in those few moments, a lot could happen. I don’t need to tell you what, you’ll probably find out in a few moments anyway. And in months, or years, the amount of stuff that will go on will boggle your mind. Will Rafael Nadal win Wimbledon again? Is there a chance Israel and Palestine will work out a treaty this time around? Are they producing another season of Scrubs? All pressing questions, and they’ll all be answered in about a year.

In twelve months, most of the people in my year will be in university. And some of the people in my year will go on a gap year. About this time last year, I was thinking to myself ‘A gap year’s got to be the biggest waste of time anyone’s ever come up with. Who wants to spend a year doing work experience or something when you could be in university, where you’re planning on going anyway?’ Now, I’m thinking ‘Hmmm, I’m really desperate. I really want to get an offer from Cambridge. So maybe I’ll go on a gap year, and everything will work out for the best!’ So yes, it’s taken me a year to get to that decision, but other decisions don’t take nearly as long to be made. Deciding to wake up this morning, that took you about fifteen seconds, didn’t it? (It took me five, but that’s because I got up late. Again).

Time is the difference between life and death, you and the university student across the street, a respectable sixth form newsletter-thing that gets published when it’s supposed to and a really late eight page spread that is good quality, but not on time at all. I was told that I’m responsible for this. All I can say is “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” (that was actually a line from Douglas Adams, but you can say I thought of it if you like. I won’t mind). It’s what makes life exasperating, because it never goes fast enough between 3.30 and 3.45. It’s what makes it enjoyable, because there’s nothing like getting up at seven o clock, realising it’s Saturday, and sleeping until ten. Some uses of time might be better than others, but no use of time is actually a bad one. That is, of course, only my opinion, and the next time I get told off for making a paper aeroplane there will be a little murmur in the back of my head, and I won’t actually say anything.

And if you’ve learnt nothing else from this article, I leave you with this: You’ve decided to read this article. And you’ve even finished it. And you can rest easy, knowing that is will be the worst use of your time today, and the study period that you have today, that you do nothing in will probably be more productive that the time you spend processing the last 800 words.


Anand said...

Dear Soumi123,

I read this quote recently by Nobel laureate Eugene O Neill, and thought of you instantly, "Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace."

I hope you don't spend your gap year searching for a way to fulfil an obsession. The real world is fascinating on its own and contains many such magic doors.

Anand anna

s said...

there be many things to be done in my gap year, like rediscovering my violin, which currently languishes in some corner of the new house...

the problem with doors is ssame that with paths. you choose one, and then all the others get replaced by different ones, and you just end up really confised with life in general.....