Better Off Like Me

James stared at his phone. He pressed the power button again. Nothing. A black mirror. He watched his reflection as a smile spread across his face. He knew what this meant. Freedom.

No phone meant no calendar, no reminders, no interruptions. He could do what he felt he needed to do in the moment and no one would bother him. No one could fault him when his phone had broken. So, he pulled out his typewriter and began writing.

After a few hours he was feeling hungry, so he took a break and ate. While he ate he decided he would break up his afternoon writing with a run.

On his run, he thought about his day without his calendar. He had gotten so much done! All the scheduling and demands to accomplish such-and-such task by this time held him back. Everyone asking for progress reports pulled him out of his writing zone. He knew they meant well, but they were all stuck in this oppressive time-centric system.

Without the distraction of the calendar or even a clock, he had the fluidity to dissolve into a task. His greatest work occurred when he could forget everything. Some of his college roommates had worried about him when he got so focused. They worried he would forget to eat or sleep. But he paid attention to his body and took care of its needs. It communicated everything he needed to know.

He ran past the train-station and watched all the people staring at their phones, their watches, or the time-tables. Some ran, others frowned. So many people were smothered by this obsession with being on time!

How could he share his freedom with others? The arbitrary constructs of time oppressed him and others like him. They forced him to live in a manner that wore on his mind, emotions, and finances. Every glare for arriving late at a meeting, every late fee for a missed bill, every frustrated friend who expected an immediate response (or at least one within a week) took its toll. It made him miserable!

James knew the solution. He could gather fellow anti-schedulers and petition Congress for protection against the oppressive time-keepers. He would seek laws that would ban all clocks and calendars. He would remove the means of oppression.

If Congress ignored him, he would go to the courts. He deserved the ability to live life without the constraints of such an arbitrary system. No clock or calendar should determine when he should do something. Only he could.

Ruby tried to open her calendar app on her laptop, but whenever she did, her cursor just spun around uselessly for several minutes and nothing would happen. She drummed her fingers on the desk. It was ok, she could remember the most important meetings. She pulled out her notebook and drew out a quick outline of the rest of her day. She glanced up at the clock. Good, she had just enough time to make a to-do list for each of these meetings.

Five minutes later, she finished and glanced at the clock again. Time for the first meeting.

At the end of the day, she returned to her desk and set down the notebook. She sat down and cracked it open. She created a schedule for the next day with a to-do list for each of those events.

She glanced at the clock. Time to go if she wanted to catch the next train home. As she walked, she smiled to herself. She felt good inside, knowing that her little paper calendar had gotten her through the day. Without that calendar and the clock, she would be going crazy.

She arrived at the train-station with plenty of time. She waited as a man ran past, then crossed the street. As she entered the station, she looked at the care-worn faces around her. She wondered how many of these poor people were so stressed because they didn’t have the skills and habits she did. If she hadn’t taken the time to review her calendar the night before, having her laptop crash would have been disastrous. Her careful habits and the knowledge of how to quickly draw up a calendar and manage her time had saved her.

She made up her mind to help others. She would start an organization to improve access to proper calendaring and scheduling systems and training. Perhaps they could even lobby Congress. She would help everyone better align their lives so they could get more done. If everyone were just a little more like her, then they could feel the same self-satisfaction she did.

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