Expressway: Resolved for 2013 -- more respect for time

Confetti is seen falling over revelers in New

Confetti is seen falling over revelers in New York's Times Square as the clock struck midnight during the New Year's Eve celebration. (Credit: AP, 2010)

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Ever find yourself wondering where your day has gone? Ever realize, come dinnertime, that despite checking the clock roughly every 15 minutes, time once again had gotten away from you?

Maybe you felt tempted, then and there, to retrace your day to find out exactly where it had gone. After all, you figured, your day was bound to leave footprints or stray hairs or a DNA sample. Maybe it had blown town, gone on the lam, headed for Tijuana.

Then, too, maybe shadowing your day would be more than an amateur like you could handle. You might need to hire a professional, a private investigator with the chops to navigate the business end of the space-time continuum.


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Which brings me to my first resolution for 2013.

Stop killing time.

Because, as it happens, you will eventually find out where your day went. Make no mistake about that. It will turn out that someone had killed it. And that someone was you. And time probably never even saw it coming.

Welcome to the club. American men spend an average of 5.8 hours a day in leisure activities such as watching TV, socializing or exercising, women 5.2 hours a day. So found the 2012 American Time Use Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We all have time on our hands to kill, however busy we believe ourselves and no matter how much we claim otherwise, and so kill it we most assuredly do. We watch YouTube videos we should skip. We read too many e-mails, texts and tweets we could easily survive without. We make small talk nobody would ever miss.

Here's the rub. We often kill time without anyone being the wiser. Nobody reports it to our bosses or our spouses, much less to the police or the FBI. These crimes never make the papers, even with witnesses all around. If the law called for us to be prosecuted for killing time, we would all probably be serving multiple life sentences.

Which leads to my second resolution for next year.

Invent a device that creates time.

We might as well invest in such an innovation -- we're already preoccupied with "making" time and "buying" ourselves time -- and the sooner the better. Because if we keep killing time, eventually we'll run out of it. That much is a given. And that would be bad. As in: the end of existence as we know it.

Thanks to this new technology, then, we would presumably be equipped to both make and buy time. Our contraption would literally manufacture time, much the same as we now do Twinkies and cardiac defibrillators. Properly engineered, it would crank out time of all kinds, including real time, quality time and down time. We could purchase the time in increments, whether by the hour, the day or even the decade.

By so doing, we would enable ourselves to make good on our umpteen other resolutions. We would be empowered to spend more of our time being useful -- working, learning, exercising, volunteering, playing with our kids, the whole nine yards. Imagine how this scientific advance would boost the national gross domestic product, just for starters.

Consider for a moment the term "time will tell." Well, it's true. Time is quite telling. Time might even tell too much. Some of us may want to tell time to shut up. But I say that would be a mistake. Time has enough problems without people telling it to shut up. Or trying to kill it, for that matter.

Now, I'm no time-use scholar -- and yes, such a species exists, if only to attend the annual conference for the International Association for Time Use Research held at the University of Oxford for the last 33 years -- but here's my big takeaway. The older I get, the more I feel a certain urgency to make every minute count. It's as if my pulse has accelerated to warp speed. Maybe you feel that, too.

So which of these two resolutions deserves priority? Stop killing time or invent a gizmo that creates it? Which is the most feasible -- or should we pursue both? We'll have to decide. It's definitely time.

Bob Brody, an executive and essayist in Forest Hills, blogs at letterstomykids.org.

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