Groupon sent me an e-mail recently touting a speedboat tour of Chicago, and I immediately imagined a matronly tour guide in spattered glasses clutching a scarf to her head, bracing herself as the boat leapt over washboard waves. She shouted into the wind about sights swiftly disappearing behind us.
Then I imagined a letter to Groupon:
I am really thankful for the bargains you offer me every day, but I must emphatically decline your speedboat tour of Chicago. My life is too full of speedboat tours already, thank you very much.
A Mostly Appreciative Customer
But perhaps I’m being unfair. Perhaps one of my readers has been on a crackerjack speedboat tour and enjoyed it immensely—the pace, the excitement, the blur of experience condensed into a few electrifying and safely harrowing moments. Maybe the elementary efficiency of it all is impressive. Maybe I should just say it isn’t for me.
Though that might not be true either…
Because I partake in plenty of blurry experience. The older I get, the blurrier experience seems. All those years ago, I learned about maximum acceleration, but that particular natural law doesn’t seem to apply to time. Each day buzzes by like a trapped fly. Each week drains before you can find the leak. Each month passes in a wave of amnesia. Each year is a smaller slice of a pie cut entirely too many times to consume.
My summer has been one speedboat tour—before I knew it, the fourth of July passed and my teaching break was half-finished. Then July was gone. Now the back-to-school ads have arrived, and I’m counting days until my first official duty. I suppose my summer was productive because I wrote a book, but even that seems a blur, something too big to hold in my brain entirely, another check in the “Complete” column.
Does anyone else notice time flashing by? A few listeners will be sympathetic if you say modern life travels too fast, but their affirmation is more “of course” than “how sad.” They say, “Don’t I know it,” or “That’s the way it is these days,” and excuse themselves to get back to it, or at it, or whatever it. Anyway, they have to go.
I have to go too. Even when the day’s schedule is really pretty empty, expectations make it seem full. If you’re not doing something, or seeing something, or answering something, or preparing for something, or completing something long overdue, you are wasting time that, we hear every few seconds, is rare.
And I thought all we had was time.
So many people tell me they want to clone themselves or slow time down so they can accomplish more. They might welcome a speedboat to carry them from task to task if it would liberate more time for even more tasks and more worthwhile experiences.
I’d love to stand on the shore and watch them zip by, but I don’t dare miss the boat. I don’t dare rest. I don’t dare remain idle.