Monday, October 06, 2014


Each human life is an hourglass filled with a specific number of seconds/minutes/hours/days/years, and I, for one, am excruciatingly aware of each one that passes from the top of the glass to the bottom. Since they are numbered, they are precious, and the waste of a single one of them is an irretrievable loss.

It is my deep and sincere belief that we emerge into life from the nothing of eternity and return to it at the moment of our death. The nothing of eternity does not disturb me, but doing nothing in the infinitesimally short existence available to us does. I can't stand to do nothing; I must always be doing something. I grudgingly admire those who can sit motionless for hours on a park bench on a warm summer's day. I am sure it gives them immense pleasure. If that is the way they wish to use the grains of their limited time, that is their choice. But I am incapable of doing so. Even as a child, when I would lie on my back in the grass and stare up at the clouds, I was doing something by searching them for—and finding—ships and clowns and elephants and faces. I love being on a beach staring at the waves, but I can't just sit quietly on the sand and observe for more than a few minutes; there is the whole beach to explore; so many colorful pebbles and seashells and bits of unknown things to see and contemplate.

To me, motion—doing something—is life; physical, and worse, mental inertia is somehow something less.

I probably spend nine or more hours of every day on the computer, but am compelled at some point to get up and go for a walk, not only for the exercise but to experience something of the world outside my apartment and outside my mind. I'm sure many would argue, with some justification, that much of my computer time is “wasted”; the equivalent of a car spinning its wheels without getting anywhere. I would disagree. I do emails, and write blogs, and engage in exchanges on Facebook and other sites, and too seldom work on my next book, all because with every word, every idea, every thought transferred from mind to monitor I am leaving a record of myself which hopefully will be around long after I am physically gone.

I have no way of knowing how many, if any, others see life the way I do, or are as compelled to hold nothingness at bay by doing something. I know there must be some. You, perhaps?

There are so very many things in our individual lives of which, if we consider them at all, we never speak, ironically because no one else speaks of them; thoughts and feelings we think of as being so personal that we feel no one else could have experienced in the same way, or be expected to understand. I am thoroughly convinced that those who think that are wrong. Which is why I have often described myself as being like a frog on a dissecting table, with all my emotional and mental innards laid out for anyone to see. I would hope that in doing so, others may say, “Hey, I can identify with that. That's me he's talking about! I thought I was the only one!”

Which brings us back to the hourglass. Man seems to be the only animal consciously aware of the passage of time, and the fact that it is, for each individual, finite. There are billions upon billions of things we will never know, books we will never read, places we will never visit, adventures we will never have. We can't possibly do/experience it all. But we can try to do/experience as much as possible in the time we do have before the last grain drops from the top of the glass.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

I've told you about the trips the hubs and I take overseas and how he is up and ready to head out the door at 6:30 in the morning just to window shop at places that won't open for hours. It drives me mental.

So I go to see him in Atlanta this past Friday. I take him to a nice place for lunch that offers a seafood buffet he's been wanting to try all year. I'm then prepared to show him around a number of places because I spend a bit of time in Atlanta each year. What does he say? He says he wants to go back to the hotel for a nap.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I tell him about all the places we're going to go. "Eh. It's Atlanta, not overseas. I'm good with what I've seen."

Coulda hit him with a shoe. He must be out all possible seconds in a day during a trip. But this time? Not so much. I still might hit him with a shoe next time I see him.

Dorien Grey said...

Frustrating, yes...but just be grateful you have someone to hit.