Yes, it seems to be a contentious article. I haven’t read it yet. But the real headline for me, the words that indicate what life is like in our western context is on the bottom line after the date: “21 min read”.
Assuming I read at the same pace the subbie at The Weekend Australian online edition sets. Is that for a ruminating reader? A speed reader? The average reader? The average reading pace of readers of The Weekend Australian as opposed to the more hectic reading pace of those who merely read the weekday edition because they’ve got more important things, more expensive things, to do with their time?
I’ve just run 22km this morning at a frisky pace and it was all about pacing. Now I’m settling down with some sugar and carbs, er, some protein and vitamins, in order to slow down the pace of life on a Saturday morning.
But I’m being told it’s a 21 minute read. Perhaps I could personal best it, take a minute off, crank out an intellectual VO2 max read that leaves me worn out, but ready for a 17 minute read of a 22 minute article.
When even our weekend reading materials are metered out in minutes taken to read, we know that we are in a fast paced culture. What if I only have 19 minutes? What will I be scrimping on if I decide to finish the article? What would I have done with those two minutes? What if I never find out if those events did or did not happen, because I run out of my allotted time to finish the article?
What if no one ever finishes the article? Did the events, whether they really happened or not, really happen or not if no one gets to the end?
Yet, 21 minutes or not, I have found myself thinking about time quite frequently these past few weeks since reading fifty. Time and the end of my allotted amount of it. I walked through the shops this morning on the way home from my run to buy protein and vitamins (came out with carbs and sugar), looking at the ageing process of everyone in the aisles.
I find myself constantly counting back my years. Twenty years since thirty. Twenty years until seventy. My father’s dementia kicked in hard at seventy. Where is this all headed?
Are other people in the supermarket doing the same? Or are they just shopping? I find myself asking those questions as I look at the lines, the wrinkles, the sags, the beauty of youth, the scars and scavenging of age, the waistlines, the hairlines, the cashier lines.
Am I the only one thinking of death in the meat section? Am I the sole person contemplating the ageing process in the skin care and beauty products aisle? Why are the infant nappies and the adult Tena pads next to each other? Is it only I who is thinking this?
Or perhaps that’s my conceit. Perhaps my conceit, the thing that I believe sets me apart from all these other trolley pushers, is that I alone am contemplating time. That I along wake up hearing the ticking of the clock, walking the aisles to the steady “tack, tack” of that broken trolley wheel. That I alone have the wherewithal, the intestinal fortitude to face up to the reality as I walk down that aisle. Perhaps I should start timing my shopping trips.
A 47 minute shop.
A 32 minute drive.
A 7 1/2 hour sleep.
A 5 minute shower. Which, in these days of a drying climate is, I am told, about one minute too long.
What if I shorten the car trip? Catch a 22 minute train ride instead? Save on fuel, money AND time. Perhaps I can offset that time and energy saving for a longer shower. Balance it all up.
A 23 minute blog post. To write, not to read.
I could have been two minutes into another article in The Weekend Australian by now. Or I could have made a coffee. But these events never happened because I chose to use the time differently.
Did I redeem the time? The days are evil so I know I should (Eph 5:16). Perhaps it should have been a 21 minute prayer.
Take a minute to think about it.