Bad week for me, yet another dental appointment today, another afternoon gone. But not wasted. One of the advantages of being a baby boomer is that one acquires a certain ability to just enjoy the moment that eludes most of us in the earlier stages of our lives. I suppose it is because of the hustle and continual rush of building a career or a business, being a parent, being involved in sports or other outside activities. There are never enough hours in the day, then suddenly the kids are gone, careers or business have reached a peak, we have to slow down a bit at sports and we have more time to appreciate life.
I also, fortunately, learned a long time ago that an hour takes 60 minutes to pass no matter what we are doing. It may seem to flash by in seconds if we are doing something exhilarating, or more like a whole day if we are bored to tears or uncomfortable, stuck in family gatherings with people we detest for example. Hours spent waiting in the army, waiting to be picked up at the end of a patrol, waiting for a two-hour guard duty to end, waiting for a 4 week call up to finish, all taught me to accept that sometimes we have to wait. Might as well find a way to use the time positively than be miserable about it.
No matter where we are, we can find something to fascinate us and get our minds working. In my days in the bush, I would watch the changing shapes of clouds, flight patterns of birds, teamwork of ants, the movement of leaves, buzzing of insects. Sometimes I would be lucky enough to catch rare glimpses of larger animals up close, like the warthog encounter I mentioned in a previous post. Once, by staying completely still and watching carefully, I saw a leopard sneak out of thick bush and take a vervet monkey from a dry river bed in broad daylight within 25 metres of where I was sitting. Tourists on safari pay thousands of dollars and still never get to see a sight like that.
My strategy for tolerating time spent waiting is to watch, wonder and think. I generally have my eReader so that I can catch up on reading and if all else fails or I cannot read – in the dentist’s chair for instance – then I use that time for the type of thinking that is difficult to do at my desk surrounded by distractions. Some of my best ideas about business, marketing strategy and subjects for blogs germinate during these times, when driving or on my horse.
Having had to start again from zero when I came to Canada after the chaos of Zimbabwe and after the financial setback of the heart attack two years ago, I still find there are not enough hours in the day. I spend more hours working now than I did 20 years ago. The difference now is that I don’t get stressed about things that don’t get done today. They will get done tomorrow, or the next day. I am all too aware that even if I live to be 100, my life is more than half over, I want to enjoy all the years that I still have left.
Apart from the discomfort of sitting in the dentist’s chair with my mouth open for hours at a time, I enjoy the visit. I am getting my complicated dental work done at the university dental school where I get to talk to people I have not met before. I see students gaining confidence and improving their skills on each visit. When I experience the dedication and enthusiasm of these young men and women, it gives me faith for the future of our society. It is encouraging to see these young people getting on with their lives, working hard, and not sitting back expecting everything to be done for them.
Remember, no matter how busy you are, take time to enjoy as many moments in your life as you can. Life is too short to worry about having to spend an hour or an afternoon away from your business. Use waiting time to let your mind freewheel a bit, it might be the best creative time you spend, you might be amazed at what ideas you get for your business.
Wishing you success.