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Rich: You have to plan to waste some time

POSTED: March 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Editor’s note: Ronda Rich’s mother, Bonelle Satterfield, died Sunday. This column was written in advance.

Here’s one thing I’m not good at doing: wasting time. I’m not bragging. We all should just take time to kill time before time kills us.

But me? I’m killing myself because I don’t kill time. Don’t give myself time to stop and take a deep breath and just hang out.

Wasting time to me is just like sitting still and being quiet. I’ve never been good at that, either.

In my demented mind, I think that every half hour of the day should be scheduled. I make an aggressive list in the morning and gleefully check off each task as it’s done. At the end of the day, I sigh woefully if I didn’t complete the list and immediately place the undone items at the top of the next day’s schedule.

"You work too hard," Mama says often. "You ought to slow down." Then she doesn’t slow down before she adds, "By the way, I’ve got a couple of things I need you to do for me." I add them to the list.

One Sunday, I went to early church and promised myself as I drove home, "Today, I’m going to catch up on my reading. Just hang out on the porch and enjoy life."

I tried. I really did. I came home, changed clothes, grabbed a book and headed to the porch.

I read a paragraph then suddenly remembered a check I hadn’t mailed so I jumped up. When I took the checkbook from the desk, I decided that the drawer needed to be cleaned out. As I cleaned out the drawer — after I wrote the check — I found a note from an old friend.

It reminded me that I hadn’t written her in a while. So drawer cleaned out, I sat down to write a note.

As I scribbled a few stories to her, including one about Dixie Dew and the ground hog she’s taken up with, it dawned on me that Dew needed a shampooing.

Envelope addressed, I took Dew to the guest room for her bath. As I passed through the bedroom, I decided to rearrange the furniture.

"I’ve got to get back to reading," I mumbled to myself. Just then, a hunger pang hit me hard — for I hadn’t taken the time to eat.

As usual. Sometimes I will sit at the island in my kitchen, five feet from the refrigerator, and pound away at my laptop while hunger gnaws at my stomach but I will not interrupt my work. Not for a luxury like eating.

A few hours later, I was back on the porch with my book. A page read, then I thought of the new weeping willow down at the creek that I wanted to check on, so up I was and off I went.

Finally, back on the porch for the third time, I settled into the rocker and picked up the book. I glanced down at the porch floor. A big mistake. A few minutes later, I was painting the porch and did not quit until it was finished. By then, it was time to go to bed.

I had a date the other night. We came home from dinner, popped in a DVD and I pulled out a red dress that I had cut off and pinned up.

"Do you mind if I hem this dress while we watch the movie?"

He grinned. "I’d be extremely disappointed if you didn’t do two things at once."

A while back, I resolved I’d do better. I determined that I’d stop patting my foot anxiously as I waited in a store line on a slow motion clerk or nervously tapping my fingers as I waited in a phone cue.

I vowed that I’d calm myself down and let some minutes of my day pass idly by.

I tried. But it was just a waste of time.

Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)."



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