No, I don’t mean going in on a vacation home with your friends and family. I’m talking about the buying and selling of life’s most precious commodity–time. Or it doesn’t have to involve purchasing; it could be a barter exchange or a lend-me-some-now-and-I’ll-pay-you-back-later scenario. But who wouldn’t like to curate their time more efficiently. (“Curate” is the word of the year, so I felt obliged to sneak it into this post at least once.)
The thought occurred to me yesterday while I was reading an email from Dirk, a friend and fellow writer who generously sends me books and always has an encouraging word about my writing endeavors. He had shared some good news, and I responded with congratulations paired with an apology for not being in touch, since I have not been as diligent in my replies and thanks as I should have. I also admitted that I hadn’t been writing much lately. Dirk instantly sent me a writing prompt to jump-start my creativity. My quick note back assigned my dry spell not to a lack of inspiration but to a scarcity of hours in the day. This whole day-job situation has definite implications. (If only my writing could pay the mortgage…)
Nonplussed, Dirk shot back an answer–he had finished his latest project seven hours ahead of schedule, so he could offer that time to me. I smiled and considered the possibilities.
What if Dirk really could ship me a chunk of seven hours? I could finish proofreading the book on ecosystems and still have plenty of time to work on my play before the next round of corrections came my way.
And it wouldn’t have to be a one-way transaction. I could take that hour spent waiting at the vet’s office yesterday, bottle it, and mail it to Dirk for when he needed it. Or it could be a global sharing economy based on need: the guy sitting at DMV waiting for his number to be called could deposit his hour, and the journalist on deadline could make a withdrawal. Sure, there would be a few hoarders and certainly some who might get greedy, but making the system voluntary would prevent the most egregious abuses.
Time-sharing has other applications as well. You could bank your own hours for future use. Remember those long summer days in August you experienced as a kid waiting for school to start? I could use a few of those now. If only I were able to reclaim those hours wasted last summer watching that travesty of drama performed in the park. (I blocked out the play’s name, but I recall one laughable phrase “the eternal anvil of truth.”)
What if you could not only offer time but make it mandatory? I bet a few Congressmen might legislate differently on women’s health issues if subjected to just an hour of hard labor. I’d be happy to donate a couple of those hours just prior to giving birth if it could further the cause of reproductive rights. Don’t you think Planned Parenthood would get the funding it deserves if every man actually knew what it felt like to give birth? It would be an experiment on a grand scale–akin to walk a mile in my ovaries. But perhaps I digress…
Okay, now that I’ve explored a few fantasies, I guess I have to face reality: I am responsible for how I spend my time. It’s a matter of priorities, right? Maybe–just maybe–I’d finish my play if I deleted my Angry Birds in Space app. The question is, do I have the guts to do it?