So much wasted time. These were, purportedly, the last words of 1970's singer and erstwhile heartthrob David Cassidy who died last week. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who thought “Blimey, that would be a pretty fitting epitaph for me too when my number's up.”
When you think about it, whole industries have been built on our deeply held desire to fritter the hours away. Take golf, for example. Even the garishly trousered millions who, bafflingly, love the game would have to admit that spending three or four of your sixteen waking hours trying to knock a ball into a hole is, ostensibly, a monumental waste of time. That's fine, though - it's part of the human condition and helps to distract and rest the mind. The list of activities we regularly indulge in which are seemingly pointless is huge: playing computer games, sitting in traffic jams, lying in bed too long, supporting Manchester United, etc. Frankly, unless you're performing life-saving operations in war zones for ninety hours a week, much of your time will be appear to be wasted, that's just a fact.
Well, a funny thing happened to me a few months ago. For the first time ever and, for no apparent reason, I began to listen to a lot of radio plays. Adapted novels, crime mysteries, true stories, nothing was out of bounds. I spent hour upon hour listening to them. Then, even more oddly, I began to devour tons of crime series on Netflix. Considering I'd never really been interested in anything of the kind before, this was all extremely strange. Part of me was saying, “You're wasting so much time here - you could be doing something far more useful.” So, I'd sit and think about cleaning the house for a nano second or two before lying back, opening another bag of Monster Munch and getting stuck into episode six of Happy Valley. Subsequently, and as suddenly as it had begun, my strange desire abated - I'd had my fill.
Now, here's the weird bit. A couple of weeks ago, an odd craving to write a novel came over me and I quickly came to realise that all that binge watching and listening I'd indulged in had given me the tools to be able to do just that via the most intense crash course in storytelling in the history of the world. Just a few months earlier, I wouldn't have had clue how to go about the task but only yesterday I finished chapter four of the book with a very smug grin on my face. The conclusion here must be, then, that many of the activities we indulge in which seem to be a complete waste of time are, in fact, nothing of the sort.
I genuinely hope someone was able to whisper that to David Cassidy.