Spending time

bird hunterDoing something that really interests you usually results in a more enjoyable life. But some people are in such hot pursuit of the next shiny thing they  wind up like a tea bag that’s steeped too long.

It seems to me that they could, after reaching the freedom from having to work, might instead focus on enjoying their time.

Years ago, I saw an interview with the director George Lucas. The one thing that I was struck by was how low tech and sort of “retro” feeling his home was. That wasn’t the focus of the interview, but I felt like here was a guy with inexhaustible wealth who chose to have a rotary dial phone in his office.

Maybe it’s that Lucas enjoys his wealth in a way few wealthy people seem to, which is to be unrushed. I don’t really remember the details of the interview because I was so surprised at the tranquillity of his life, instead of its opulence.

What’s the best way to spend your time? I might put in some play time, reading time, and exercise time. Some long walks with my wife and our dog. Maybe include work that matters to me and that helps others. Continual learning, and time alone to meditate are probably good ideas. There’s not much about increasing life’s speed and trying to cram more in.

How’s this for artful simplicity? I heard Richard Branson claim, “The truth is, so long as you’ve got a kitchen which has space for a sofa, and a bedroom, and a partner that you love, you don’t necessarily need the add-ons in life.”

A bit further down the food chain, the travel writer Pico Iyer eventually opted out of his successful fast track career in New York to live in a quiet neighborhood in Japan with his wife where he’s able live a much less connected life with more stillness between his travels.

Of course, everyone’s idea of how to best spend time is different. Here’s how a turn-of-the-century Danish aristocrat liked to spend his time.

“He got up at four and set out on foot to hunt black grouse, wood grouse, woodcock, and snipe. At eleven he met his friends, who had also been out hunting alone all morning. They converged “at one of these babbling brooks,” he wrote. “Take a quick dip, relax with a schnapps and a sandwich, stretch out, have a smoke, take a nap or just rest, and then sit around and chat until three. Then I hunt some more until sundown, bathe again, put on white tie and tails to keep up appearances, eat a huge dinner, smoke a cigar and sleep like a log.”