Today I am seeking snowdrops before they are officially announced to be in season this year, so hopefully I will find some, other than the tiny clumps I’ve seen gathered quietly along the roadsides. As I descend into the hills, down through the natural streams that gather at the bottom of the valley, a thought slowly broods inside me, that I don’t fully probe at that moment, because it’s not really very interesting to me. That thought is, the value of what I’m doing, compared to some work I could be doing. Routines and schedules and plans are nice and part of my every day life. Chasing snowdrops, I think to myself, is not part of a plan.
Measuring time means giving value to time, and that means saying every minute of my life, every hour, has computable value. If I catch myself saying I have no time to go to the hills and to the sea, that’s saying, where’s the value in it? Where’s the value in that time, where is the value in those places?
There’s a light snow that’s been following me all day, and slowly it’s growing and gathering, until I can mistake it no longer – it’s hail! Unexpected spring hail at the beck of sunset. I hide my camera and my notebook away and duck down further into the valley, the light following us down. The world is going to sleep, so gently, but faster the further I fall into the crook of the hills.
When I live and sleep and walk under the sun and in the fresh air, with purpose, within my means, and with care, how can that be a waste of time? If I sit for long enough in a warm spot under a spotless unmoving blue sky, enough time to see the leaves go from green to yellow to red in the light that gently falls into its daily slumber, I can feel the trees breathing, not with the restless shake of their superfluous leaves, but in the slow joining of tree to tree, root to root, the earth around us rising and falling, a long breath that outlives all of ours.
When I wake and write straight away until my fingers and hands and mind are tired and devoid of words, or I sit with a guitar or on a piano and write songs until syllables lose their meaning, how can that be a waste of time? The only time I have wasted my time was when I forgot this is what I wanted to do and when I spent all the real earthly resources anyone can have – time, energy, dedication, passion – doing everything that I thought everyone else wanted me to do. Of course, really no one wanted me to do anything – no one really minds that much what you do, as long as it allows them to live their own lives as they want to.
The snowdrops I’ve found are dreaming, little heads nodding off into a slumber, little newborns awakening at the end of winter. I wish I could stay here all night and dream with the flowers too, under a brilliant blanket of stars as pearly white as their petals. But nature has its own way of scolding us predators and wanderers away, smacking us with its cold winds and flurries of storms, shaking its head and telling us to come back when the springtime has woken up a little more, and there’ll be a beautiful show then, for sure.
I want to live so that everything I do has purpose, and is within my means, and is done with care and interest. The only time I forget who I am is when I spend my time doing something that is outside of these.
So instead of wasting my time, I vow, amongst the forests and the seas and the mountains and the rivers, not to waste my time, whatever wasting really means, but to conserve my time. Because time is not mine to allot and to measure out accordingly. Time is not mine. It’s not something to possess. I am within time, just as I am within and part of the environment and the natural world that makes me what I am. And I can only allot and measure and value everything around me for only so long, until the question is revolved around, and turned back on me – what is my value?