Opinion | Off the Cuff

Trying to stop time as the years go by

That stupid diary was sure intimidating — it had a weekly planner, a daily planner, it had every minute of my life planned

  • By Mahmood Saberi Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 November 14, 2012
  • Gulf News

It has become a joke, so I might as well get over with it while there is still one more month to go.

Every December 31, I lament, I rant, I shed tears on the time I have lost and dream what would have been if I had utilised my time better.

But it is no use, I cannot change. I have tried every trick to fool my brain, but it seems it is more clever than me or just plain lazy since it is fuelled by junk food.

The sorry saga of trying to better myself started during the time when organisations used to gift leather-bound diaries with gold-edged pages to people like me. I realised much later that it was a trick to make me insecure and feel like a loser.

I am not sure if you have seen such things; this was long time ago when things still used to be printed on paper and not virtually. The diary was printed on classy paper, the leather was supple and it showed different time zones and had international holidays marked. (I never travelled much so that was useless information for me).

There was also a section which for some reason showed how to turn centimetres into one square mile. The only time this section was useful was when my wife shouted that the Fahrenheit thermometer was broken and would I quickly tell her how much 37.2 degree Centigrade was.

That stupid diary was sure intimidating; it had a weekly planner, it had a daily planner, it had every minute of my life planned. Since I usually had just one or two appointments a day (one of which would invariably drop, because who wants to speak with a nosy reporter on a glorious afternoon anyway), I was left with pages and pages of empty space.

It seemed such a waste to leave the pages empty, so I would write silly quotes which I thought were inspiring and life-changing. Quotes like: “The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well”. Or, “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together”.

I wrote down this quote thinking it was true and I waited for a long time for things to change, but they never did: “Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.”

Having a rich-man’s diary full of silly quotes started to feel pathetic, but it got worse when my wife used it to write down her daily expenses: “Chilli powder — 1.25; dried curry leaves — 0.75; lady’s fingers — 3.15 (No, she’s not strange. In India, Okra is known as lady’s fingers).

Then came the era of the virtual mailbox and it had a wonderful thing called a Calendar. There was no way you could waste your time with this neat time planner. You could block off a period of time for whatever you wished to do and it had a tiny bell on top to show the alarm will go off as the special time started. It would send off emails to your colleagues or your friends and relatives the time allotted for certain things to do in your life. That didn’t help either because while I was blindly deleting useless emails, I would delete the calendar events also.

My wife then decided to help me and would pick up self-help books at sales. I have titles like, What the most successful people do before breakfast; What to do when there’s too much to do, and even, Effective Time Management for dummies.

As time passed by, I bought myself a smartphone that tells me what I should be doing and when. The only problem is that unlike a nagging wife, you can shut it off.

Gulf News
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