People measure worth in time

Steven Snyder

Does life keep getting busier with each passing year? If so, I think I’m in for a bumpy ride.

I already feel like I’m running 30 different directions at once, spread far too thin over far too much. I am constantly amazed at how packed my life has become without even addressing the notion of “homework.” As a senior, I think I can fairly say: first years, I envy you.

I fondly remember the good old days of the late 20th century. Skipping every other meeting of Psychology 1001, watching Jeopardy every afternoon, hoping that each day would not be meatloaf day downstairs at the pitiful University Dining Services. How did I not realize those were the carefree days to be cherished?

As my favorite quote says: “What a pity it is that youth is wasted on the young. Time.”

How has time become the precious commodity we search for, in vain – more time to sleep, more time with friends, more time for homework, more time to think about what we want to do with our lives?

As a high school student and freshman, time was my friend. I had forever to be a student, forever to goof off without repercussions. Somewhere during the past year, however, it has become that nagging mother over my shoulder. In a few short months, I must make decisions that will affect my life. Do I pursue what society says I should do, or what I truly want to do? I am quickly realizing there is not enough time for both.

And Valentine’s Day led me to think about this issue in a completely different way.

I wanted to write a column about love – about what it means in college and how the silly Hallmark cliches don’t really apply to the real world. I have always felt there is something disingenuous about people who only express their love on pre-designated, cookie-cutter holidays.

But taking a step back, I wondered why so many people buy into these holidays in the first place. Yes, there are expectations from their partners that some recognition be given on a day such as Valentine’s. But there has to be something more that causes an entire society to cave in and buy their loved ones those chocolates, those roses, those cards and teddy bears.

The more I think about it, Valentine’s Day is society’s way of blocking out some time for those we love. We get busy and don’t always let those who matter to us most know how we feel. So it is through holidays, from Valentine’s to New Year’s, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, Father’s Day, Secretary’s Day, etc., that we make time for those special individuals in our lives. It is expected that Thanksgiving will be spent with families. New Year’s and Valentine’s are days for our romantic interests. Spring break is time to catch up with friends. Collectively, we have found a way, despite our hectic schedules, to make the time.

And that is when I had my one, intelligent revelation about love. When you come right down to it, Valentine’s Day is not about the gifts. It is about the thought and the time. Girls, if a guy orders you roses, it means they took the time to think about you, to place the order and to have them delivered.

If you went out on the town with your special someone last Friday, did it really matter where you went? Or, was it special simply because they had set aside the time to focus solely on you? My hectic life has taught me one thing for sure: Time is the most precious commodity we have.

I have a working theory that I think you may find interesting. I believe the strength of a relationship is directly proportional to the amount of time two busy people will stop to speak with one another. Think about it, you are walking to class, about 30 minutes late, and you suddenly see a familiar face ahead in the hall, walking towards you.

Do you stop and talk? Do you brush by? The answer depends entirely on how much you care for this person. If it is just a casual acquaintance, you’ll smile and likely say “hi” but never break your stride. If it’s someone important, really important, you will stop, regardless of how late you are, and catch up.

You are likely reading this in the morning. Test out my theory today. As you run around, from class to class, pay attention to when you stop to speak with someone. I contend that these are among the most important people in your lives. Why? Because you gave them your time.

On Valentine’s Day, it was someone giving up his or her time that made it special. And so it is with every friend and partner we love. Love means making the time. It means never saying “I’m too busy.” When couples get married, they make the ultimate promise – ” ’til death do us part.” They devote themselves to each other until the end of time.

I’m not really sure where this column should end. These were just the thoughts of a burnt-out, borderline zombie senior who must be going through, as John Mayer says, a “quarter-life crisis.”

I guess my final point is this: Screw the holidays, the presents and the cards. Don’t wait for an excuse to show someone you care. Go out and make the time for them every day. It’s the most precious gift you have to offer.

Steve Snyder’s biweekly column appears Wednesdays. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]