Prolonged Re-entry

It’s a trope as old as holiday decorations themselves.  We all know the house (or plural) where the Christmas decorations remain until it’s warm and light enough to go out and take them down.  The same thing happens inside our house, on a smaller scale.  Bits of the holiday—whether it be Christmas cards on the mantle, or the not quite spent candles from the Yule log—remain, while we reluctantly reenter BAU (business as usual).  It’s a process best taken slowly.  I suspect many of us find AU (as usual) to be not really ideal.  Too many bills, too much Covid, too much of a demand made on that non-renewable resource, time.  I know people happy to see the holidays go, but I’m already counting the days until they come again.

January, whose end is fast approaching, is a waiting time.  Waiting to recover from perhaps a little bit too much holiday spending.  Waiting for a bit more light and warmth.  Waiting for that package to arrive.  Waiting for the plumber to call back.  Waiting for, well, business as usual.  I read about holidays quite a lot.  They wouldn’t be special if they happened all the time, of course.  And we need the supply chain that demands steady production of goods and services from those not actually chained to a desk all day.  Still, I can imagine a different world.  One in which there is time to get the non-work stuff done as well as filling obligations to capitalism, pouring out our libation to the emperor.  Many analysts are suggesting technology has increased efficiency to the point that a four-day work week is optimal.  Who’s going to pay the same for less, however?

Time is a commodity.  I’ve got a lot of projects outside work that I really want to finish.  Some of them, like that junk car in my step-dad’s yard, could turn a profit if only I had the time to spend on them.  Meanwhile there’s work to be done.  Long days in front of the computer knowing there’s something more exciting after it’s all over.  When work’s done I’m too tired to get much accomplished.  It’s like the endless lapping of the waves on the sea shore.  Unchanging.  Persistent.  Aware there’s always a coming storm.  So I’m sitting here with Tom Petty, waiting.  Even if we don’t know what comes next.  Let’s call it a holiday.


Lines and Silver

If you’re thinking about silver linings, here’s one to ponder: waiting in lines has, with certain exceptions, disappeared during the pandemic.  Yes, some people waiting in line to be tested, others to be inoculated.  Early on lines were long to buy toilet paper.  By and large, however, waiting in lines has ceased for many of us.  For me that’s a silver lining.  Even from my youngest days I’ve found waiting in line problematic.  Not that I think I’m more important than other people—not at all—my mind keeps itself pretty active and standing in line has been one of the more difficult times to keep it engaged.  I generally keep a book with me.  The lack of mass-market paperbacks in the categories I tend to read, however, makes having a book in your jacket pocket difficult.

People standing in line are often surly.  It’s not always a great place to strike up a conversation, to improve your mind.  It is the epitome of wasted time.  Not just for me, but for everyone involved.  Learning to live mostly at home has greatly reduced that wasted time.  Interestingly, many people have reported being bored with their extra time.  Others of us find this small windfall just enough to keep in place as we continue sprinting along.  Regardless, the line waiting absence has been one silver lining.  When I was a student I used to call waiting in line a theological problem.  What I believe I meant was that time should not be wasted and your options were severely limited by standing in a queue.

For many people, I suspect, the smartphone has addressed the issue even before the pandemic came.  My smartphone has never been that much of a comfort to me, when it comes to time.  Although I’m on social media I don’t spend a whole lot of time on it.  It can easily become yet another way of spending time I don’t have to squander.  Reading ebooks on a small screen doesn’t really lead to any sense of accomplishment for me.  Perhaps I think about it too much, but it seems that real goals are met in the real world.  Ah, but this is meant to be a silver lining post, the lack of lines.  As the pandemic slowly dies down, queues will return.  Books won’t have grown any smaller in the meantime.  Perhaps I could use the time wisely by learning to explore the wonders of the universe in my pocket.  Just after, however, I finish this book in my hands.