A non-waste of time

I sometimes consider writing a book to be called So You Think Your Life Was Wasted, because I think that fear haunts many of us, and it is a fear that I have come to know is unwarranted. But it’s one thing to know a thing intellectually, and another thing entirely to suddenly know it viscerally.

I got one of those cosmic dope-slaps today, and I have to laugh at myself, that the realization could have taken so long to sink in.

I had just finished writing my December column for The Echo World, a free-distribution monthly that circulates throughout central Virginia. In it I had quoted two phrases from Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural address, and it occurred to me: Everybody knows “nothing to fear but fear itself,” but not everybody would know “This nation will endure as it has endured.”

And then the light went on, in three stages.

(1) Of course they wouldn’t. Few people have spent so much time reading history and biographies, as has been a great part of my life since I was 13 years old.

(2) I have often criticized myself for spending my life reading, rather than accomplishing something.

(3) Duh! Maybe reading was what I was here to do!

Obvious now, but it wasn’t obvious before the lightning struck. We’re all here leading our lives in ways that may or may not make sense to us, but chances are, we’re on mission. Worth remembering.



7 thoughts on “A non-waste of time

  1. Maybe we couldn’t have been as effective here–in meeting our purpose, in being teachers, in knowing enough of the best of this world to believe in it, if we hadn’t been readers.

    1. The point I was making — that hit me emotionally, finally, after so many years of knowing it abstractly — is that whatever we spend our time doing, chances are, it’s what we ought to have been doing, whether we recognized it (or even approved of it) or not.

      1. Yes, and I think it was the first time I had ever included reading in that list. I had always thought of it as a ‘time out,’ or a time filler, or even a time waster. And it doesn’t matter if it was any of those things. At the same time, it hit me how useful it has been.

  2. We were encouraged to read as kids. Mom read to us when we were little, and she would take us by the library when we went into town. I remember my favorite thing to do in the summer was to curl up with a good series and imagine myself there for a week. Of course, chores came first. Even now, my favorite way to spend a rainy day is getting lost in a good book.

    Around our house, reading wasn’t a time waste. It was valued. If you could read, you could teach yourself how to do almost anything.

    1. I may not have made my meaning clear. We too were encouraged to read; my parents were readers as kids and throughout their lives. But I was talking about reading instead of living, which is what it sometimes feels I did.

      1. Thanks a lot(as ALWAYS) by wording my own early experience of the very same Frank.
        Pretty much the very same as yours about diving into the HISTORY of the World. And since early childhood reading all sorts of books about the history of the world- as a 12 year old child reading Winston Churchills two large volumes about WWI, the post-war years, and WWII, and still to recal the two LARGE volumes(my parents held a large library of the manyfolds literature, “a reading family”). And often felt like(to me) observing my life but not participating in it….Wonder if many of us to have had “the feeling” (within)…. to have felt myself as “unreal” (the FELT unreality in life)? The unsuspected feeling often coming “out-of-the-blue,” and all of a sudden.
        Smiles, Inger Lise

  3. Yeah!!

    I count on being “guided” to books I can read that will teach me what I need to know for what’s ahead of me on my path. I don’t think it’s “coincidental” or “accidental” when we are drawn to read something.

    : )

    Think of the time spent reading what TGU shares….and what Frank shares……and then try and slot in the concept of “wasted time”??? Ha! Probably some of the wisest time investments I’ve made in my lifetime.

    Go, Frank Go!

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