I don’t have time

“The opposite of spare time is, I guess, occupied time.  In my case I still don’t know what spare time is because all my time is occupied.  It always has been and it is now.  It’s occupied by living.”*
(Ursula Le Guin)

Time ought not only to be functional but beautiful too.  I’m not thinking of time out, or relaxed time – these kinds of time can be important but they don’t necessarily become beautiful time.

In her essay Living in a Work of Art, Ursula Le Guin describes her childhood home, how it came to be built and how it was lived in by her family.  As a writer, she comes to wonder what kind of novel it might be compared with:

‘I don’t know what novel our Maybeck house could be compared with, but it would contain darkness and radiant light; its beauty would arise from honest, bold, inventive construction, from geniality and generosity of spirit and mind, and would have all the elements of fantasy and strangeness.’**

In describing the beauty of this house and home, Le Guin could be describing the beauty of a life; indeed, she concludes her reflections upon her childhood home:

‘perhaps all my life I have been trying to rebuild it around me out of words’.**

This sense of beauty in a life, created in time – for Le Guin being constructed in words and for us in a multiplicity of ways – is added to by some thoughts on the art of loving from Erich Fromm who is thinking about the need to use time to encourage inner activity:

‘One attitude indispensable for the practice of the art of loving […]: activity. […] To be active in thought, feeling, with ones eyes and ears, throughout the day, to avoid inner laziness, be it in the form of being receptive, hoarding, or plain wasting one’s time, is an indispensable condition for the practice of the art of loving.’^

I note the thought that even wasted time is useful time here.  When we struggle with our time alone and see no purpose to it we have a problem.  Rebecca Solnit reflects:

‘One force is the filling up of what I think of as “the time in-between,’ the time of walking to or from a place, of meandering, or running errands.  That time has been deplored as a waste, reduced, and its remainder filled with earphones playing music and mobile phones relaying conversations.’^^

Perhaps noticing Fromm’s inner activity with time, John O’Donohue sees how all time can be made beautiful, replete with possibility:

‘When you come into the rhythm of your nature, things happen of themselves.’*^

(*Ursula Le Guin, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Ursula K. Le Guin on Spare Time.)
(**From Ursula Le Guin’s Words Are My Matter.)
(^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(^^From Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust.)
(*^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)

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