Spare Time

I have noticed at work that two subjects are dominating the conversations. Sports and video games. Nothing unusual, these are the usual topics discussed at work. Sports and video games. To be knowledgeable in either subject takes time. A lot of time. I asked one co-worker how many hours a week he devotes to gaming. His answer was 10. Another co-worker said 10 was probably a very conservative number and the truth was really higher.

I look back on my 20’s and early 30’s. What were the two areas that dominated my life? Sports and video games. I watched all the sports. I played all the video games. I devoted a good portion of waking hours to both of these endeavors. After years of playing and watching, what did I have to show for it? I could hold my own in these work place conversations. What else did I have to show for it? Absolutely nothing!

I have started reading an old book this week, one that last month I never even knew existed. It is Pushing to the Front by Orison Swett Marden. In Chapter 6: Possibilities in Spare Moments, Marden provides examples of some of history’s most notable figures and what they did outside of their normal occupations. I read it and was immediately put to shame when thinking back on my younger years. The possibilities in my spare moments were squandered compared to the examples in this chapter. The examples Marden provides are summed up in this statement:

Many of the greatest men of history earned their fame outside of their regular occupations in odd bits of time which most people squander.

Yep, that was me. But the good thing is that all is not lost. Later in the chapter, Marden provides a bit of hope with the following:

The present time is the raw material out of which we make whatever we will. Do not brood over the past, or dream of the future, but sieze the instant and get your lesson from the hour.


The worst of a lost hour is not so much in the wasted time as in the wasted power. Idleness rusts the nerves and makes the muscles creak. Work has system, laziness has none.

When I hear the conversations in the work place, I hear what is taking place in the spare moments of their lives. It is not for me to judge the doings of others, but I can choose differently. There are so many that complain of their situation. They want more opportunities. They want more money and a better standard of living. They want so much, but what they want for the future takes a backseat to the things they want in the present. The wasting of time to fit in with the popular culture is more important than the action required to change their future. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Things do not change, we change.” If we want something different in our lives, we have to change.

As with all my writings, there is not only a lesson for me to learn here, but one for my son. Life is short. It may not seem like it now. It may seem the days and hours drag out and your death will come in the form of boredom. It is in those times, when you seemingly have nothing to do, that you can separate yourself from the herd. It is in those times, that you can develop the physical and mental strength that will power you to a greater life in the future. You are in control. You get to make this choice in life between action and inaction.

The slack hand impoverishes, but the busy hand brings riches. A son who gathers in summer is a credit; a son who slumbers during harvest, a disgrace. –Proverbs 10:4-5

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