Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pie Charts

But I do want to bring the amount of time I spend on things more in line with what I purportedly want, and value: not necessarily by chivvying myself to do more of what I ought to do so much as by realizing that I am making my declarations of what I value by spending my time. There is nothing wrong with treasuring my interactions on Facebook – I have always been, really, an occasional writer, drawn to the glittering surfaces of things; almost a writer of epigram, except that I'm a too wordy. I like floating down a current of random thoughts and responding to them.

On a thread about catcalls and wolf-whistling, I wrote:
Not a sexual response exactly but a response to sexual frustration and humiliation, I think. It's a way of swaggering in front of the other subadult males: "I'm so studly I can make advances to any unattached female! Right here in public! Louder than any of you!" Of course, the only people it can possibly impress are other subadult males even more anxious than you are, but hey, we're primates, we'll take status where we can find it :-)

And in response to a link to a biographical essay about Obama:
Roy Jenkins, I think in his biography of Truman, said something like: "The American republic has many qualities, but recognizing greatness in a sitting president is not one of them." I'm not even a political ally of Obama, except by necessity, but I think he's one of the four or five most impressive people ever to hold the office.

I like summing up, recapitulating, settling my thoughts in an orderly fashion. And I like chatting with people. I've never chatted much with people face to face: I talk too slowly, and get flustered too easily. So it's fun for me to chat in the written word. I type as fast as I talk, if not faster. And on a keyboard there's a backspace key, something that viva voce woefully lacks.

Still, if I was to make a rough pie chart of what's important to me, and a rough pie chart of where I put my time, the slice devoted to chatting on Facebook (and blogs, though there's a less of that, these days) would be about five times larger in the second pie than in the first. And, contrariwise, the time devoted to less occasional writing would be about five times smaller. I don't want to be a martinet with myself, but I do have the uneasy feeling that I'm not tracking well. And the current of life runs so deep and swift, nowadays. I lose track for a bit, and I find myself fifty miles closer to the ocean.

I do like to bear in mind that even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea, not because I'm gloomy, but because it reminds me that things are both more and less important than they seem: there's a frame around the picture, endpapers to the book. More important because everything you put in is something else left out: less important because it's just one fleeting life among billions, quickly over and quickly forgotten.

So perhaps a little more time here, and a little more time reading Dickinson et al, and a little less over there on Facebook. And maybe I really should make up those pie charts and have a think about them.


rbarenblat said...

You and me both, dear Dale.

Zhoen said...

I'm not counting minutes, nor calories.

I like listening to a discussion for a long time, and figure out what is not being asked, where people are persistently snagging, then figure out how to punch through. Sometimes, it works.

Sabine said...

Someone recently described a visit to a cafe (in NYC) with the guests all silently peering into a screen in front, laptops and smartphones with the Apple logo, and the Facebook bluish tinge in their eyes. Human surrender to machines. Oh dear.

marly youmans said...

I am making my declarations of what I value by spending my time.

Good statement. Agreed.