In the film “About a Boy” Hugh Grant’s character claims that life is made up of units of time, each unit consisting of one half hour, “haircut, two units” and so on. Recently I have been thinking about this example of categorization as we have been shifting from a work-centric lifestyle to one of (dare I say it and risk the wrath of all those reading this at work) leisure! It is difficult, I think, to understand this change if all you have to base it on is one or two short vacations. It is in the long break from work related duties that one is forced to contemplate how to fill one’s days. Those French and their six-week summer holidays really have their finger on the pulse as far as I’m concerned.
It’s not that we now sit around and choose to spend two units on clipping toenails or anything! Simply put, without a job getting in the way, we are now able to dedicate some time to those events in our lives that in the past were cursory at best. For example; in our daily routine the ritual of morning coffee is often more a medical practice, something necessary in order to be able to face the day. Once work and the process of rational thinking are removed from the list of required functions, consumption of coffee becomes something of serious significance, worth at least one full unit of time. I love getting up and watching the coffee fall into my mug first thing in the morning. That first sip… it’s as though I can feel the life-giving juice flow directly into my veins. I have made a promise that, once required to seek employment again, I will leave myself enough time before beginning in the morning to appreciate the wonder of caffeine and the central role it plays in my toleration of stupid people.
Personal grooming is something that, when working, I not only spend minimal time on but consciously avoid. They say that opposites attract, and I was fortunate to marry someone who is attractive, intelligent and cultured. So it goes without saying that I avoid any situation requiring me to spend any time in front of a mirror, but these days (finding myself with time on my hands) I can catch up on some well overdue grooming, dedicating two full units daily to my personal ablutions. Cleaning properly behind my ears, for example, is not something that the populace generally spend enough time on when rushing around prior to work, “I’ll wash with soap tomorrow,” Joe Average might say. Well, I’ve got the time and I can attest that all of my cracks and crevices are fresh and clean. I have actually shaved more than once a week since leaving work, it’s a new Marcus. Mum, you would be proud!
By far the most noticeable change once gainful employment (or the act of getting to and from it) is removed, has been to my driving. I am known by many to be what you might call an erratic driver. Occasional geographic confusion is highlighted by brief jaunts down the incorrect side of the road. Dramatic drifts towards 18 wheeled trucks often occur when something of interest passes by and requires a head twist in order to properly view it. And no matter how hard I try not to, my mother always taught me to look someone in the eye when in the midst of conversation; Ashley assures me that it is not a social faux pas to keep my eyes on the road in such instances. All of this means that my passengers experience something akin to an amusement park ride whenever entering a car of which I am driving. But no more! I am now a casual driver, since not having anywhere in particular requiring me to arrive at a predetermined time I have now evolved from the above listed menace to society into one who resembles four elderly ladies in white suits out for a day of bowls. If the speed limit is 60 I’m the car driving at 40 miles per hour. If the red light turns green, I am the guy pulling off slowly and smiling at all the other drivers. If I spy something of interest I pull over; unlike the bowlers who would gesticulate wildly to each other and suddenly swerve into oncoming traffic and then pull an unannounced u-turn in order to go back for another look. In fact, my leaving work has probably benefited the United States by limiting traffic fatality statistics significantly. You’re welcome America. I look forward to similarly benefitting Australia’s roads come October, so I promise not to look for work too quickly.
Perhaps this dedication to pastimes not normally considered a priority is as equally important an attribute as, say… where we go on vacation. These “projects” are what turn us from relentless, power-seeking, shit-kicking, go-getters into what the Dalai Lama would refer to as “compassionate beings.” With this in mind, I have resolved to use this voluntary unemployment to address my many other infelicities and shortcomings of character. First on the list is impatience. I aim to address this habit immediately, if this internet connection will ever work at a respectable fucking speed!