“Time really flies,” my friend remarked, chewing on his food.
“Yes, and fruit flies,” I said, grinning like a monkey with a freshly peeled banana.
My friend looked at me, blinked a couple of times, gave a mock sigh, and shook his head. It was a joke so bad, it was good.
I will fully admit it — I like to play. Like most people, I would prefer play to hard work, especially boring or painful hard work. This is antithetical to the usual idea of spending time wisely. For most, when we think about time wisely spent, we often think of a student or office drone quietly poring over some difficult thing, his entire body tense with concentration. I will admit that sometimes I work hard, to the point of pain, but most of the time I prefer to play, even when it comes to work. Moreover, I will contend in this essay that play helps me to spend my time wisely. Perhaps, then, it is not such a stretch to say that I always spend my time wisely.
I play the guitar, and have been pretty good at it for a number of years now. I will admit that the first few months of playing the guitar were pretty painful — sore fingers and terrible noises were par for the course — but it was fun. That element of fun means that I have continued playing the guitar for many years, when most people who try to learn the instrument give up after awhile.
I also like to think that I am pretty handy with the English language (you may feel free to disagree). My facility with the English language has mostly come about as a result of enjoying reading. I would read anything I could get my hands on, when I was younger. Comics, magazines, novels, newspapers — I would read them all. When I picked up a text that I found boring, I just put it down. There was, after all, so much to read. I instinctively looked for something fun to do, and reading served that purpose well.
This element of fun that I associate with the English language is in direct contrast to my former disdain of the Chinese language. Whenever I tried reading something in Chinese, my brain would scream at me, “difficult, boring!” I honestly tried working hard on my Chinese, in school, but I still just barely passed. I blame my failure to learn Chinese effectively on my failure to look for material that was fun to read. Without that element of fun, my brain simply shut down and refused to take in any information.
Do I always spend my time wisely? The word “always” in that question may force me to answer in the negative. There must have been times in my life when I have wasted time. However, prioritising the principle of play has helped me to enjoy my work. Counterintuitively, playing more has helped me to work more. Hence, since my life has always been a mix of play and work, perhaps it is not so unreasonable to claim that, by and large, I always spend my time wisely.