Friday, January 2, 2009

Ponderings . . .

Have you. I wonder, time for a little rumination . . . ? If so, read on, if not . . . well just skip it!

There was an excellent programme on BBC2 the other night called 'The Retreat'. Did you watch? In the programme one of the participants asked, in genuine perplexity, "Why would you sit in silence for an hour? Time is money."
I had to smile because it reminded me of something that struck me at Box Hill. One of the many good things about going to Box Hill is that it allows time to ponder. I like the word 'ponder', it lacks the urgency of 'think' or the earnestness of 'reflect'. Pondering can be light-hearted or profound - but it's always enjoyable.

But to cease pondering on 'ponder', and to get to the point. On Sunday morning my newspaper was delivered to the bedroom and it came complete with a 'Free DVD'. Not having a DVD player this didn't cause me any excitement, but it did cause me to ponder on the nature of a free gift. And the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that this DVD wasn't free at all. Oh yes, it didn't cost any money. But money comes and goes. What it did cost was the far more valuable and irreplaceable commodity of time. The DVD was a robber. It would steal from the person who received it at least an hour-and-a-half of finite, precious time. An hour-and-a-half of their limited life-span.

We're a generation who are always feeling rushed for time. No wonder when so much of it is stolen every day. Take that Sunday newspaper. If I'd read it conscientiously it would have taken at least a couple of hours.. Then there were the two crosswords, three sudoku (alas, I'm addicted to sudoku!) . . . all in all, complete with the DVD, that newspaper would have voraciously consumed six or more hours of that single day. And then, the following day, along would come another equally time-consuming paper to do the same thing all over again!
We wonder where our time goes. We complain that time is going ever faster and faster. But it isn't time, it's us. We load ourselves with IPods (which take time to listen to), with DVDs (more time), we record the TV programmes we aren't able to watch (and search in vain for the time to watch these recorded programmes).

It seems to be electronic goods that have the worst, time-consuming quality. Books don't.
You can browse a book, not a CD. You aren't rushed to the end of a book at a speed dictated by someone else. You can take your time (even that phrase is appropriate) and not feel caught up in its slip-stream.

And it isn't just time that's being stolen, it's also our peace of mind. We are sated with electronic marvels. Our sensibilities are clogged with stuff. We have electronic indigestion. All right, I may not hold with rewards, but I do believe in consequences. Now, whether we deserve it, earn it, or even want it we are bombarded with music, information and entertainment. How can your eyes sparkle with joy at the first notes of a Mozart concerto when you've only to reach out for a plastic disc to hear the same thing, in stereo, any time you feel the urge?

And that's the joy of Box Hill. Plodding happily through the mud, time and entertainment are forgotten, they don't matter. When you get back the walk seems to have lasted for ever, you are full of air . . . and space . . . and fresh inspiration . . .

Oh dear, I asked if you had time for a rumination, but do you know what? Here am I, filling your over-crowded day, stuffing your over-loaded computer with unearned, undeserved and unwanted, electronically transmitted chatter!!

Forgive me! I just wish I could offer you a wonderful, restorative, muddy walk on a wintry Box Hill as well-deserved compensation!