Strangely, for many, my next sentence would sound a bit odd; “I feel guilty when I’m wasting my time or rather anyone who takes me granted and while away my time”. When I’m dragged and get struck in wasteful social gatherings; in situations when I’m invited and people make me wait owing to their improper planning. And left alone, I have nothing worthwhile to engage myself. Somebody squandering away my time leaves me prickly and irritable. I may appear calm outside but would be simmering inside; a feeling starts showing on my face as if I have lost my wallet with a good amount of money in it. Or someone is terribly sick and I don’t know how to respond to the situation. A fume of edginess or something like that. I’m aware that it looks like a bit peculiar. And because it’s my time I’m speaking about.
I can claim, it’s my space and my ethos and nothing offends me less when it comes to hedging my time and my schedules. On any day if someone snatches away my usable time from me, when I’m not prepared to, or when I don’t want to part with from my selfish hoarding – my hours and my minutes. It causes me to become sullen, draw inwards, reticent, don’t participate and not to respond – these are my symptoms I grouse about: If I find staying up for long periods demotivated or idly attempting nothing, or chance upon an uninvited intrusion into my private domain.
Way back in ’86-87, when I’m in early years of marriage with Mani, and enjoying our three-year-old daughter, Neelima. I’m just getting myself introduced to my father’s project, Kennedy High School, slowing gaining in popularity, perhaps, because of his academic qualifications: he was a Doctorate in Physics, and had a brief stint in the USA. And the English medium schools are slowly finding acceptance among the semi-urban demography of our town – Vijayawada. Fame may be due to the name Kennedy was catchy or my father’s academically attractive demeanor. The school started growing fast and fat. Fast in the number of students joining in and fat financially.
Money, often, brews quick enemies faster than the comforts it can buy. A few anonymous letters and complaints by some local ill-motivated had one day saw two income-tax officials in our office. After all the negotiations and discussions I was to accompany them to meet a few parents to inquire about the fees paid, and other relevant payment details. The whole process took about fifteen days speaking to around hundred parents. It was at this juncture trying to solve the tension of tax issues, the two officers, both of them in their forties, were with me for more than six hours a day for fifteen days. It’s they who have introduced to me; I was hardly twenty-six then, the preeminent definitions of hard work, dedication, and a key take away – the importance of punctuality and sense of time. They have literally explained to me in course of fifteen days task. From then on I became a timekeeping – fanatic.
I notice a gall of discrimination involved and a sort of hierarchy implied how a lot of people look at the time and value attached to it. Shockingly, it was evident to me in many instances that the person on the lowest rung of social order would be treated in a manner that his time is measured with least respect. He is dealt unscrupulously, allowed snubbingly to wait for any number of hours. Even if he comes at an appointed time and his appeal is genuine. I at once get irritated when someone I approach with a due appointment and proper agenda to discuss when I‘m made to wait, or I find the discussion on hand is kept aside abruptly to take a call on the phone; that may go on for a minute or more than that. It hurts me to assume, a bit annoyingly, “Do you think, the call is more important than the person in front of you; ‘yes, it is’ that is the indirect message I get.” This is the most brazen sort of attitudes, many a time, I chance upon; upping their status by not bothering about the sanity of their time and sheer disregard of the others. I keep seeing this happen every day, and I control myself grumbling when the other person nonchalantly flouting my timekeeping sense.
Working evidently to maintain punctuality, the hurriedness in the walk, and fume to catch an appointment speaks a lot about the attitude and character of a person. I try to hit the road well in advance; always anxious enough to be in good time and see that whoever, on the other end is not made to wait. I run, rush and reach on dot and I feel proud of myself seeing that I’m prompt to the nearest minute. I do it in spite of traffic hurdles, the last minute blocking irritations. My ‘perfect-timing’ urge is consistent; irrespective of the event, small or big, by honoring the time of other people remain all too important. With all the perspiring hurry when I arrive without delay, wearing a prideful smile about my own sincerity, I unfailingly find, in almost all occasions, I’m the only one around to show up, a tad too early. Quickly, not brooding much, not owning much negativity, I open a book, a habitual back-up, make myself comfortable and do what I love most- reading. Waiting, for the rest of the group to assemble at their own irresponsible slackness. The work, however, goes on, but I have to be careful that their attitude doesn’t hurt me; so I’m attentive to carry my own comforting devices not to fall prey to other flocks’ disregard that might damage my pluck.
I frequently overhear a notion that many habitually are ‘wasting time’, the word is so loosely used, as I note, by many men – big and small, by educated and naive characters. We don’t waste our time but in a sense, in truth, our days are wasted. This is how we need to look at the elusiveness of time. Time always remains integral and valuable, but it’s our primed days that keep passing away empty, meaningless, and valueless. In my case, I see the inherent advantages differently: my days and hours silently speak about the valuableness they carry on within them. They peel off any laziness with an ‘urgency’ jolt, to fire me up not to neglect and ignore the power built within every surging minute. This pressure I generate for myself allows me an optimistic rush to recognize and exploit the enormous possibilities and opportunities every day can reveal for me. This is my perception of time. How it helps me every minute to brighten me to buoy up and stay zestful. I’m the creative sum of all the minutes I count and take advantage of them every day.
They say time changes everything: What I have recognized dissecting my experiences – good and bad, that time never changes. Again and again, it’s we who have to alter our conduct within the tight, limited, universal allotment of time in which we are slotted. It’s our volatile choices that decide, on any given day, the answers to, “Am I amply enjoying the day servicing every minute to full fill my priorities, my valuable preferences, my space with my family members, my social obligations, my professional urgencies, my personal desires and how I’m accommodating these demands every day with the time reserved for me”. I put to test my staunch caliber to see if my day to day challenges are properly calibrated and proceed to work around the minutes till I arrive with satisfaction at the finish line – the end of a day.
For this to happen without any ‘I letting down myself’ feeling to swamp me, I design my space and time excluding all the interfering fringe temptations. This choice is my specialty discipline that assists my work for my satisfaction and happiness and at the end of the day feeling, “I’m what I want to be with my effort and my time”. This is the self-actualization exam I write for myself. It’s up to me to strive hard and come out with top notch marks or sit idle and get depressed with low average achievement. The choice is mine, the reach is mine, and happiness is mine. I sail along with my effort and belief to make the difference in my life with the only bounty I’m presented each and every day: a jackpot – the time. And work with a promise: “Create the best you can – for yourself”.