Bill Sniffin: Poverty Of Time Describes These Go-Go And Rush-Rush Times

Time (or the lack of it) has always been a prime topic for people who work hard and miss out on all the fun activities that living in Wyoming can provide.

Bill Sniffin

June 11, 20215 min read

Sniffin 1

By Bill Sniffin, publisher

“Time sure does change things,” said an airline passenger to his companion.

“When I was a boy, I used to sit in a flat-bottomed boat on that lake down there below and fish.  Every time a plane flew over I’d look up and wish I were in it.

“Now I look down . . . and I wish I were fishing.”

Time (or the lack of it) has always been a prime topic for people who work hard and miss out on all the fun activities that living in Wyoming can provide. 

This time stress is especially bad about this time of year.  Spring and summer are times for fishing, golfing, puttering in that garden, working in the yard, visiting relatives, taking that long anticipated vacation and, well, just doing fun things.

It seems like time is so precious and is flying by so quickly that before we know it, we are out of it.  Often precious time with family and friends gets lost amid the pressures of job and commitments.   

We are so lucky to live in a place like Wyoming.  When was the last time you went to Yellowstone?  It is so green and beautiful this time of year.  One of the reasons it is such a favorite in the spring is the appearance of all the calves and other baby critters.

Other national treasures like Devils Tower or the Oregon Trail beckon, too.

Our state park system is one of the best in the U.S.  It really doesn’t take that long to drive over to Fort Laramie, for example, or Guernsey or Seminoe.  Time may be precious, but Wyoming offers lots of see if we just make the time.

Philosopher Jacob Needleman refers to our present-day pressures as the “poverty of time.”  He wrote a fairly pessimistic (but accurate) essay on this shortage of time in people’s lives. His comments are as follows:

“Time.  We’re coming to the end of a hundred years or more of devices that were invented in order to save time.

“What has become of time? Nobody has enough time anymore.  We are all completely taken.  The way I would put it is that time is slowly disappearing.  We are a time-impoverished society.  We have lots of material things, but we have no time left.

“Human time has disappeared — and we’re in animal time.  Or vegetable time, if you like. Or mineral time. 

“The time of computers.  The time of things.  Of mechanical devices.  Animal time is literally the time of the rat race.  It’s the New Poverty. We are simply not living our lives.

“New Agers say: Do what you love, the money will follow.  That is a fantasy.  Many people will say: ‘Now I have found that when I’m there making my living, making money, I am completely wasted on meaning.  My life is meaningless. I come away exhausted and tired. I have no time for anything that I consider meaningful.’”

Now, the above is a pretty serious commentary, but sometimes we all feel a little desperate about the lack of time there seems to be for us to get everything done that we want to do.

Then here are a few of my favorite expressions that I’ve collected over the years about time:

• After all is said and done, more is often said . . . than done.

• A favorite toast: May the most you wish for be the least you get. May the best times you have ever had be the worst you’ll ever see.

• Which shall it be?  Go, Go, Go or No, No, No!

• Experience is a hard teacher because she gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards.

• It isn’t necessary to believe in miracles.  Just hope a few believe in you.

• Sympathy is never wasted unless you give it to yourself.

• People always ask how do you grow? Figure out what scared you the most and go do it.

Here is a great quote on time. It is from the 1953 classic movie Beat the Devil, which was directed by John Huston. In it, a character played by Peter Lorre launched a famous monologue about time, which went:

“Time . . . time. What is time? The Swiss manufacture it. The French hoard it. Italians squander it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist.  Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook . . .”

In order to have more time, we need to get organized. A smart guy once suggested that we need to do an inventory of our lives. He suggested we list things “I have to do” on one sheet of paper and “what I want to do” on another sheet.

Then go through everything in your life and anything that clearly doesn’t fit on one sheet or the other – get rid of it.

Share this article



Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.