Free Time Costs Time

A year ago, I went to Italy. I did it for a program I no longer study and to learn about myself. I didn’t go with an American group. I went by myself and lived in an international student dorm for three months.

It was life-changing. The most life-changing part was that for three months, I had an insane amount of free time. I was in class only about seven hours a week, and my reading outside of class never took me more than ten hours a week. If I had consolidated all of that into one day, I would have been able to do it without any problem. Essentially, I had six days of free time.

I am rather sure that at no point in my life will I again have that much free time. Free time like that sounds wonderful, but it isn’t. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking and hard. It involves a lot of sleeping and a lot of dreaming and a lot of thinking about the world. And it’s aggravating.

I’ve been really super busy lately, and I find myself continuing to think back to those three months and thinking that it would be really great to go back to that. But then I remember how much I love most of the things I am doing right now and how much I hated doing nothing for extended periods of time and how even when I had a bunch of time, I still didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done.

We don’t evaluate what we are doing often enough. We think that time grows on trees. We think that we can find it lying underneath couch cushions like lost change. We think that it is hidden at the bottom of bottles or in a kiss. It’s not, though. Steve Jobs once said:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

A year ago I went to Italy. That year isn’t being kept on a shelf.

What do you do with your time? Do you really love it?


The Interesting Business of College

Being a college student is interesting business. On the one hand, we are told repeatedly that this is the time when we get to start living – we have the freedom and the ability to really do what we want. On the other hand, there is an understood rule that we will be responsible, get our degrees, go on to occupy “meaningful” jobs and be productive members of society.

The great absurdity of life, as my friend once said, is that we don’t spend every second of every day doing something we love. Because, he argued, who, if not ourselves, are we trying to make happy? And if there is anytime at all to be happy, isn’t it during our life?

These are important questions to think about. The problem is that happiness is such a hard concept to pin down. Is someone who plays video games all day because that’s what she wants to do really happier than someone who goes to class because she has a responsibility to do so? I don’t think so.

Yes, we should be chasing things we are passionate about all day erryday, but we also shouldn’t let immediate gratification blind us to the fact that some of the things we want we are going to have to wait for.

What do you wish you were doing?