By Trent Rentsch
“Take these chances,
Place them in a box
Until a quieter time,
Lights down, you up and die!”
I waste a lot of time. I’m told that I’m a busy person, but the fact remains that I blow off countless seconds, minutes a day. How many hours must that add up to in a year?! I don’t even like to think about how many days in my lifetime that means I’ve squandered! There are those perfectly good minutes that I stay in bed, waiting to hit the snooze and enjoy doing nothing again with the next 9 minutes. Hell, half the time I’m not even sleepy anymore, yet there I lay, paying no heed to the time slipping away forever. And then there are the hours I sit in front of the tube, aimlessly surfing for something even mildly interesting to watch, settling on some movie that I’ve seen at least 12 times, and didn’t even like the first time. Speaking of surfing, of course the Internet has me in its web, and hours pass by me as I poke around for fascinating sites like “watchmygrassgrow.com.”
I realize that I’m human, and not only do I want, but actually need some of that brainless downtime to recharge for the real world, but I fear that I waste time there, too. When I was doing radio production day to day, I know that I would often take 10 minutes to find the “right” music cut, when often I’d end up back with the one I found 45 seconds or so into the search. I also used to go back and listen to a spot over and over, listening for flaws… or was it just burning off those minutes before lunch? Even now, as I was writing this, I caught myself going back and reading over the first paragraph a few times to see if it works, rather than just moving forward and editing later, certainly not a productive way to spend my writing time (especially with a deadline looming).
All of these seconds, minutes, hours, days… gone. Never here again, the ultimate non-renewable resource. This bothers me for several reasons. First, while I don’t like to think of myself as lazy, the truth of the matter is that I certainly can be and have been… and probably will be again. It’s an ugly title, Lazy. Right up there with Thief, Drunk, Lawyer. Certainly nothing my parents aspired for me to be, definitely nothing I want to pass on to my children. Still, I must face it… sometimes I just want to sit and do nothing, let the rest of the world spin along without me for a bit.
Second, I do have things I’d like to do with all that wasted time. Yes, these are things I’d LIKE to do with that time, not things I have to do that I’m avoiding. I’d like to once and for all really learn how to play the guitar, instead of hacking at it. My bookcase is filled with volumes that I haven’t opened yet, plus I have at least 5 books and 27 or so short stories started myself that I’d like to see in print before I’m 90. There are friends, relatives that I’ve let slip away… people who are important to me, but I never seem to stay in contact with. And no matter how many times I tell her, I could always use that time to find some new way of telling or showing that wonderful woman in my life how much I love her. From playing my keyboards to learning a new card trick to writing that email to my parents… my life is so full of fun, diverse interests, that it’s unthinkable to waste a moment!
Then there’s the other reason that I am having a hard time with all this wasted time. John C. Price was the Program Director of KRRO, a Midcontinent radio station here in Sioux Falls. He was a big man, whose size was only dwarfed by his heart. Everybody got along with John… he was smart, funny, and genuinely enjoyed people. When I was still in the building full-time, I talked to John about the business. He was not yet Program Director at the time. He was doing mornings and dreaming about the day that he might program a station. John told me several times that he had an idea for a radio format that would take the industry by storm. He just needed a venue and someone who would give him a chance. When he became PD of KRRO, I remember how excited he was, and how happy we all were for him. And did he take the ball and run with it! John breathed new life into that station and made loyal fans nearly fanatical! I kept waiting to hear that some big market station had snatched him up and that his dream format was about to see the light of day.
Sadly, that day did not come. A few weeks ago, John came home late. I understand that his wife heard him fall, but he was already gone when she got to him. That big heart of John’s gave out, and he was gone. 36… gone, just like that.
I’d like to say that John was a close friend. The truth was that we talked about getting together for lunch or a couple of beers, but talk was as far as we got… just never found the time. I really liked John. I admired his quick wit and what he accomplished with the station. I imagine that the station he dreamed of creating would have been amazing, the one that now will never be. I hope he was proud of what he did with his life. I know we all were, and I hope that somehow he knows that.
Through it all, I can’t help but wonder what I’m waiting for. We just never know when our own clock will stop ticking. Tomorrow I might not be here to pick up that poor old guitar that’s been putting up with my horrendous playing all these years. Checking out without realizing all the dreams, or at least trying, seems tragic, especially in light of all the wasted time. The good news is that there’s still time, there’s still right now, waiting to be used. But hurry… time DOES run out.