Wasting Time

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : January 3, 2005

One of the most sought ofter commodities in this consumerist culture is time.  Consider the words of Philip Kenneson, from his book "Life on the Vine:"

I naturally think of "my time" as my own.  It is mine to control.  It is a possession, a commodity.  This conviction is so deeply rooted in our culture that we regard it as a maxim that "time is money"…By precisely segmenting time and transforming it into a scarce reousrce, the West has created the conditions for the appearance of a new virtue: productivity.  Productivity is simply this: a quantifiable amound of work acheived duringa  specified length of time.  THe more work per unit of time, the greater the productivity.  Few virtues are more exalted in Western societies, a situation that exerts subtle and not-so-subtle pressures on most every citizen.  For example, once productivity is regarded as the key benchmark by which we assess our worth, the question that naturally follows is this: What do you have to show for your time?

Today I am sick.  Illness forces me to be less productive, less able to be productive.  My natural reaction to this is to feel worthless.  I always feel worthless when I am not productive.  And I feel worth something when I am productive.  While being productive can often be a very good thing, it can be an insidious cancer.  When we don’t allow ourselves the ability to "waste" time on things that aren’t productive, we don’t give ourselves room for friends, for prayer, for experiencing time rather than spending it.  Often, our desire for productivity is an enemy to our faith. 

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