May 27, 2010

The Value of Time


I unexpectedly have an hour off today, aside from my regular breaks and lunch. All but one of my second grade students are on a field trip to La Granja (the farm), and that one student is with another teacher who has more kids. So my one hour lunch turned into a nice, long two hour break - during which I decided to blog at school.

And let me say, I don't think I've valued a single hour so much in a long time.

I - like everyone else - have twenty-four hours in my day. I sleep for about six of them, spend one in the morning to get from being asleep to being human (I´m not a morning person), I'm at work for seven, and I commute for two; a total of sixteen hours. Which means I have eight hours left to myself during the day.

Which is a lot. Not a lot of people with full-time jobs or long commutes or families can enjoy having a full third of the day to themselves. Granted, I that's the time I have left over to go to the gym, go running, get groceries, buy other things I need, clean the house, and generally take care of myself. But it also leaves me a decent amount of time for hobbies and entertainment.

Even after the gym and running and grocery shopping and cooking dinner I still have time to play around with my sewing machine and watch a movie or a few episodes of one of the many shows I'm following. So I'm usually at home relaxing and enjoying myself for a good four or five hours in the evening/night. Four or five hours that I pretty much take for granted and don't even notice are flying by.

So why is this one extra, unexpected hour off today so special to me?

Is it because I have class before and after, so a nice break inbetween is appreciated? Is it because I can think about what I would otherwise be doing right now - screaming at twelve second graders for a good half hour - and I'd much rather be doing this?

I think it's because it's just that - unexpected. I wasn't expecting to get it, and when I did, it was a wonderful surprise. Those four or five hours in the evening I spend doing nothing but exactly what I want to be doing in that moment? They're due to me, they're expected. And in being so, in a way they lose their value. Not that I don't appreciate the fact that I get out of work earlier than most, and I have time to do both what I need and want to do in the afternoons. But those free me-time hours in the evening are a given.

If I worked twelve or fourteen hour days (which I did the first year I lived in Rome), an afternoon off - spent at home, eating an ice cream sandwich in front of back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother - would be such a glorious treat! But because that (minus the ice cream sandwich) is a possible variation of many of my weekday evenings, it's not a treat anymore. It's routine. When did I stop appreciating just how amazing my day-to-day schedule is?

How long do we have to keep getting something good for it to stop being special and start being expected?

p.s. Don't forget to enter my 200th post GIVEAWAY for the chance to win one of three different prizes for three different winners! Go check it out! And good luck!


leigh ashley said...

great post julia! we need to remember to appreciate even the little, day to day things in our lives! :)

Nicole Z said...

Such an amazing post! It is so true that we start to take such marvelous things for granted and forget how marvelous they are - no matter how big or small they might be. Thanks for the reminder :)