Thursday, August 18, 2011

Using My Time Wisely

Whenever I've been blogging a lot, I start to feel guilty. You see, most of my blog posts are built upon taking my camera out and walking around the yard slowly to see what catches my eye, photographing whatever something(s) that may be, bringing the pictures back inside and uploading them, then sorting through them, categorizing them, editing them as necessary...and THEN beginning to write.

I'm not a speedy writer. Sometimes I spend as much or more time researching a topic as I do writing about it. Or I'll remember a "perfect" example to illustrate my topic, but have to search back through years of photos to find the one I'm thinking about. I almost always revise each post a couple times, trying to get the words to flow smoothly and to truly get across what I'm intending them to say.

Once I add the photos and publish the blog post, I try to take the time to view it as others will be seeing it, then edit, as necessary.

This all takes time. Time that I'm not using to garden, to do housework, get groceries, plan meals, pay bills, or to do any of the other myriad of tasks that need to be done to keep our home running smoothly. Naturally, if I've been blogging quite a bit, the house and yard start getting a big ragged. And I start feeling a big ragged...and guilty.

Which leads me to my perennial internal question: What is the best way to use my time? The older I get, the more I realize that our time on Earth is limited. Should I be blogging about the wondrous, and the mundane, world of nature? Or should I be keeping my house spotless and the chores done? Should I be taking the time to walk around the yard with the camera? Or should I be making sure that I get the birthday cards out on time, the social obligations are met, the volunteer hours put in? Should I be in a career, hopefully earning lots of money and respect? Or should I be blogging, volunteering, making dinner and doing laundry - none of which put a red cent into our pocketbooks? I wish I was organized enough and efficient enough to do it all...but the sad fact is that I'm not. Something always seems to get dropped, and it always feels like it's an incredibly important something that I shouldn't have lost sight of.

I wish I was as secure in my understanding of this issue as Robert Michael Pyle when he wrote:

"I have never suffered a crisis about what time well spent means for me. I've never regretted a minute spent out-of-doors with my eyes open. Reading a heartfelt novel, story, poem, essay, or letter has never caused me to feel I was injuring eternity, though many Christmas letters, e-mails, newspapers, and magazines are another matter. Dancing is always time well used; so is birdwatching, and listening to the blues in all their various manifestations, from Bach to Brahms to Bartok, Bobby Burns to Bobby Zimmerman to B. B. King. Love, family, friends, and good cats. The night. Walking by day with my butterfly net. Hiking any trail, exploring small roads that may go nowhere. Conversation and meditation make for moments no more squandered than taking a memorable beer in a satisfying setting, whether it be the Free Press Pub in Cambridge or my old chair surrounded by books and warmed by the woodstove at home."
(p. 105-106, Walking the High Ridge: Life As Field Trip)

Everything that Pyle mentions in that list resonates with me (although I'd change the list of favorite music!). But, but, but.....

This quote, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson (but actually written by Bessie Anderson Stanley), has often soothed my unease when I start thinking too hard about the roads not taken....

"To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

I'll probably be pondering choices until the day I die! Meanwhile, the laundry is calling and the paper stacks have been reproducing themselves on the kitchen counter, so I'd better get back to "the real world." Who knows? Maybe inspiration will strike as I fold the socks!


ProfessorRoush said...

I'm with you. We blog and we hope someone make up for the time we could be benefitting others.

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Wow, have you been peering into my life and mind? You have expressed much of what I've been pondering lately!! No answers; I just relate totally to what you are saying. I see that you have been blogging for quite a long time. It's not quite been a year for me. So many good little time. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. I appreciate it :-)

Gaia Gardener: said...

Thanks, guys. It's always good to know that I'm not the only one wrestling with some of these questions!

And, not coincidentally, I'm so glad that you both choose to take the time to blog, as I very much enjoy reading your thoughts and comments and experiences!