How do we spend our time: Around the World in One Day

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I have been thinking about how people spend their time.  About what we do when heat overtakes us, or horrific news erupts, or dreams are crushed, or people disappoint us.  About how we show those we love that we do love them.  About how we make time's passing matter.  The other evening, while at dinner, my son was explaining what matters to him when choosing friends.  "I don't want to spend that much time with people who spend too much time judging other people," he said, naming a top criteria.  I thought about me:  Do I spend enough of my own time not judging?

During this past week of both celebrating birthdays and escaping heat, I have found myself at more restaurants than usual, watching those at neighboring tables spend the great portion of their time interacting alone with their own jewel-encrusted phones.  Three teen sisters never once spoke to one another.  They texted, the three of them alone on their phones, through the lemonade, the salads, and the shared dessert.

How do people spend their time? 

How is a day delivered and consumed by a gardener, say, in Dubai, or by a man who is in radiant love?  Yesterday, I read a story I encourage you to read about the making of a documentary film based entirely on YouTube footage.  The story, which appears in the July 24, 2011 New York Times Magazine, was written by Adam Sternbergh and is subtitled "How more than 80,000 videos and 4,500 hours of raw footage turned into one unexpectedly emotional 95-minute movie."  The film, produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, was edited by Joe Walker.  From the story:
"I noticed fairly early on that a lot of men with very good cameras were taking beautiful pictures of their very beautiful girlfriends backlit in parks," Walker says. So they tagged all those clips "My Beautiful Girlfriend" and built a montage out of them.  Other tags included "Ablutions" and "Footwork." "So many people shot their own feet walking, we could have made a continuous 12-hour film out of people walking," he said. "We could have made a film out of watermelons. We could have made a film entirely shot by women named Linda...."
Read the whole story.  Watch a few of the clips here.  And ask yourself what film you'd make about the life that you are living.


Wendy said...

This is such a great post, Beth. I recently posted about a reminder to slow down after reading another blogger's post about how little time we actually spent unengaged with technology. I know that as I've gotten older, my time seems even more precious to me. I find myself longing to work less and engage more with my senses as well as the people who mean the most to me. When my sister was diagnosed with cancer, it reminded me that I needed to treasure as much time with the people I love as I could.

David Stanton said...

I think we are becoming so focused on the observing of life that we are spending possibly too little time living it. We post and tweet about it, text about it, film and photograph it with cameras and phones ... I think we all may need (myself included) A Day Without Sharing -- just to remember what it's like to exist without trying to expand its meaning to The Other.

Beth Kephart said...

Wendy and Dave,
When I started this blog I had no idea what social media was or would become. I stayed away from Facebook for awhile, then made the leap. I have still not turned to Twitter. I find that I often feel best about this blog when I am celebrating others—getting the word out on books or movies or places or ideas. Sometimes what I am celebrating is my friends or my son or the kindnesses of others.

But always I ask myself whether I am doing the right thing by this blog, and by my life.

Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

Melissa Sarno said...

This is a fascinating project and I liked reading these comments. I do think it's interesting that we are so compelled to share with others what we are doing and how we are feeling. I don't know if we are necessarily missing the moments we are living just because we feel the need to 'tell' someone about them. If that need is so great, maybe we are doing exactly what we need to be doing.

If I had to capture how I spent my time these days, it would probably look just like your photo! A hot NYC subway car is the bane of my existence. Too hot to bike :-(

Lilian Nattel said...

Such a thoughtful post. I was thinking the other day about a memoir I read--a 10 year old girl in Yemen who was forced into marriage and was able to get a divorce. The poverty and ignorance there...It made me appreciate walking with my family, just walking to the park after the heat wave broke.

septembermom said...

This post is a great one. Often, I feel like I spend too much time online trying to engage others through these different online venues. I think it's time to take a walk outside more often and engage my spirit with nature and maybe the casual passerby.

Thanks for the post and the moments of reflection Beth.

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