By Johnie Gall
“I lean back as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.”
—James Wright, “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.”
That’s the end of one of my favorite poems. I like to imagine this man watching the hawk on a warm summer night, snorting a laugh, and smiling wryly to himself as he says the last line aloud. He knows it’s not true.
I used to read articles about time management—“Time Management Secrets of The World’s Most Successful People”—hoping I’d discover hidden minutes stashed away somewhere. There are 168 hours in a week, yet there’s never enough time for me to do all the things I love. But that’s not true, either, is it? No, because I didn’t have to spend twenty minutes scrolling, clicking and double-tapping a phone screen after my alarm went off this morning. It’s amazing how an hour can pass you by before you ever notice it’s there.
I spent six of them driving down to West Virginia the other day. We packed some bags, filled the tank, grabbed our kayaks, and left the dirty dishes in the sink. Now, there are myriad ways to spend a spring weekend, like weeding the garden, pressure washing the deck, or grocery shopping. They’re all viable and valuable ways to one’s spend time.
Ask some people, and they’ll tell you kayaking is a waste of time. It’s not a very efficient way to get around, they’ll say. Setting up a foldable boat? Now there’s a way to whittle away the hour, they’ll proclaim, as they get back to their weeding and scrolling and liking.
I am not one of those people. I’m a big believer in just doing, just because.
Once you stop rushing around, it’s amazing how much more living you have time for. You have the time to paddle under a waterfall, just because. You have the time to pack a picnic of salami and cheap gas station wine, just because. You have the time to look up and notice a chicken hawk from your hammock, just because. You have time for play and passion, for troublemaking and tiny moments of joy. Besides, the dishes and the weeds will still be there when you get back.
How to waste a day really depends on who you ask. And if you ask me, no day—no life—is wasted if you did something you love.