Readers of my Posts might already be aware of my love-affair with effective marketing strategies. Not just because my son works in a related field (so I feel a little compelled to ‘keep up’ with the game), but because good advertising can be so amazingly clever in its subtlety and accuracy in targeting consumers. There’s a popular European river cruise company that “gets” what resonates with people who love new travel experiences: too many places to see, and never enough time. So the advert begins with a silver-haired David-Attenborough-type talking about the precious commodity we all want more of… to live out our dreams and our pleasures.
We might be struggling with health and mortality issues, feeling driven to squeeze as much juicy adventure out of life as we can “before it’s too late”. Or, we might be locked in a 9-to-5 gig, with ‘time’ for a travel-escape feeling like it’s always just out of reach, compared to competing priorities. The Attenborough lookalike speaks to anyone and everyone who longs for the guaranteed enrichment and satisfaction that travel experiences give us. As anyone who’s traveled knows, even a trip fraught with the usual mishaps – missed connections and lost luggage, disappointing accommodations or digestive issues, still feels like a joyful, mind-expanding and valuable use of precious Time.
With the hype about the New Year and the New Decade bouncing around in my head, plus the irresistible urge to plan spring and summer travel (offsetting the gloomy days of winter for a bit) I began thinking more seriously about how I spend my Time. Travel is my ‘default’ setting for extended time off. But what about the minutes of my day that I’m not engaged in ‘work’ of some kind? How difficult it can be, always feeling stretched or pressed by having to choose what to do (weights, or cycling?), what needs doing (the dust-bunnies the size of actual bunnies, lurking under my bed), the relationships that need caring-for (I can’t keep putting off going for drinks or hanging-out without being accused of “ghosting” friends), and finally, the Me-time that keeps me sane, and from turning into a totally unkempt cave-woman.
If I allow it, the Internet and Social Media can throw everything and everyone in the paragraph above under the bus, without my even thinking for a nanosecond about whether or not this is a good use of my Time. Before people started talking about these phenoms, now using the word ‘platforms’ to lend solidity to experiences that are anything but solid – I think that people must’ve spent more time in casinos. Think about it: all of the slots tuned to the ambient C Major; the lack of windows, and therefore a sense of timelessness; food and drink brought right to where you’ve stationed yourself. Hours pass and you realize you haven’t seen your spouse or children or dog in two days.
I recently read a quote – so rich in irony — by Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Sometimes social media feels exactly like that: I may not be living someone else’s life, but so caught up in what others are doing, thinking, saying, sharing and buying that I get lulled into ignoring my own priorities. Time. There seems to be plenty of it, until there isn’t. With a New Year, and a New Decade on the launchpad, it feels like a good moment to re-consider the whole topic of real, and tangible Pleasures: the richest and most rewarding ways of Living Life, Spending Time as the precious resource that it is.
“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – from “The Road Less Traveled”, by M. Scott Peck.