Wasting Time, Reading A Book

I was out doing chores today and stopped for a bite. It was a beautiful day and I decided to sit at one of the umbrella tables that they set out this time of year. An elderly man was seated at one of the nearby tables, leisurely eating his food and reading a paperback book.

Someone passing by, who obviously knew the man, greeted him and added, “Watcha doing?”

The man at the table replied, “Oh just wasting time, reading this book.”

That got me to thinking about time, and how we spend it, and how we waste it.

It’s interesting that we use the word “spend”  when we talk about time, as if it was money. But, unlike money, which we can find ways to replenish, time is not replaceable. The time we spend doing anything, is time we will never get back.

When we are born, we are gifted a finite number of days to do with as we choose. However, nobody hands us a credit card and tells us how many days are on it. We can’t assume that we have 100 years, though some people do reach that milestone.

But even 100 years is still a finite number of hours and days. And humans have discovered so many ways to shorten that time. We find ways to damage our health, abuse our bodies, mess up our minds, surround ourselves with people and/or activities that can bring a sudden and violent end to our days.

How many people do you know that who have died in an automobile accident, or from a heart attack, a shooting, a drowning, a fast acting disease? It happens. My brother died at the age of 24 in an automobile accident, leaving behind a 4 year old son. I am close to a family that lost three people in a drowning incident in a pond, no less. A mother, father, and one of their young children. They left behind three other children.

My point is, we never know when our time is up. We should ban the phrase, “I have all the time in the world,” because we don’t.

I didn’t say anything to the man at the next table, but I don’t agree that he was, in his words, wasting his time, reading a book. He wouldn’t have been reading that book if he wasn’t enjoying it.

Many who read this will agree with me that reading is one of those pleasures in life that we never seem to have enough time for. Any time you can take precious moments to read a book is time well spent.

Books are like life itself. As you read a book, or live your life. Nobody else is experiencing the exact same thoughts, same emotions, same events, that you are experiencing in your own head and heart as you turn each page of your book or your life. Every new chapter brings on a feeling of accomplishment, and yet it takes you closer and closer to the end of the story. A story you don’t want to end.

Then, there it is. The last page. The last paragraph. The last sentence. And finally, the last word.The best books and the best lives always seem to end too soon. Couldn’t we have just one more chapter?

No, that man wasn’t wasting his time reading a book.  Whatever time he has left in this world, and how many more chapters he has left to read, he is spending his time quite well.



  1. And I just spent my time reading your essay about time. It wasn’t wasted. It was enjoyable. I would love to find a new book to read to laze away my time. It is a time that I use to escape and live someone else’s world for a little while. It is not wasted.


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