Antoine de Saint-Exupery used the phrase “wasting time” in his famous book the “The Little Prince”, but he used in a way that gave this ordinary phrase quite an extraordinary meaning. In the story, while talking about friends, the Little Prince says that we really do not love anything – or anyone – unless we are willing to “waste” our time with it (or him, or her). In this sense, we might even define prayer as the time we “waste” with God. Actally, that is a pretty good definition of it.
We have all experienced occassions when we would like to spend time with someone. But the other person is anxious to get on, to be about some other business. He has no time to “waste” with us. He’s “busy”. SPending time with someone does not mean that we have to be “doing” something, in the sense of something useful or profitable. We can, to be sure, spend time with friends by playing games with them. That is, we just want to be there, together. We are beyond the “doing” sort of activities that need to be done whether we like it or not.
No doubt, we eventually need to get back to work, to the daily chores of life, but the phrase “to waste one’s time with someone” captures exactly that point of profoundest importance when we realize that we just want to be in someone’s presence. Everything we do is designed that we might have such moments, or discover them if we do not know what they are.
Language here seems odd. “To waste time” usually has a perjorative meaning. We are doing nothing when we should be doing something. “Don’t just stand there, DO something!” We are treading water, we are doing everything else but what we should be doing. But in the present context, it means rather something more like “not wanting to be anywhere else but here.” This is already where we want to be, the end of our desiring, as it were – not the means to get there. I know that many of our married members will recognize what this means immediately.
Now what does this have to do with sports, play, with those active things that we love? Some of this “not wanting to be anywhere else” in a certain moment is to be found in the world of sports, in the word of play, in the active life. You know the feeling. When you scale a mountain at sunrise, when you’re on the slopes, when you’re runnning, or whatever it is that you do that you love simply for what it is and what those moments are, and not what they’re going to do for you. In other words, there is no thought of “fitness” or “productivity” or “efficiency” or “working toward my goals” – no, it’s just a ‘waste of time’…in the sense that I’m speaking of. You’d do it even if you knew ahead of time that it wouldn’t add one iota to your level of fitness, to your bodily health, or further any project that you were working on. You’re simply there, doing it, not as a means, but as an end – simply because you rest in it, and you found great joy in it.
And that is all.
Go there today.
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