Making a difference

I guess that I spend quite a lot of time thinking about Life the Universe and Everything. Starting out on a new year, I always try to be forward looking and positive – even if the state of the world is not so encouraging just now. Overall, I ponder about the fact that we all have a limited time in this world and we should all think about how to use this scarce resource …

For most of us, our time is broadly divided three ways:

  1. sleep
  2. work
  3. recreation/leisure/family/hobbies/sport/eating

#1 is easy enough. We all need sleep – some more than others. There is plenty of research that suggests that good quality sleep is essential to good health. The best that you can do is give it a priority by getting a good bed and make sure you get enough hours.

#2 is more difficult. In an ideal world, everyone would have a fulfilling job, which is more than just a way to pay the bills. There are those that say that you should find your passion and figure out how to make a living at it. Few of us are able to live up to this ideal, but it is worth striving for. I have been fortunate in my career, having almost always had interesting work to do and never being out of work. I am profoundly aware that I have been lucky and that many people just do what they do to get the paycheck.

It is #3 where most of us have more control, particularly with leisure activities. The obvious plan would be to simply do stuff that you enjoy and that is exactly the right starting point. However, it is wise to think about what is also good for you and what might be good for other people too. For example, if you love watching TV, you could award yourself a totally sofa-bound lifestyle, which would be very bad for you both physically and mentally. Watching TV is not intrinsically bad, but watching all the time is. Maybe you like running. Going for a run every day is fine, but do not over-do that either. It is all a question of balance.

logoI endeavor to fill my #3 time with a wide range of activities. I do watch TV, but rarely – maybe a couple of hours a week. I love reading. I do cooking and we socialize a lot – mainly at our house or friends’ places. Theater and movies fill many evenings. I do not really do any sport, but I like to walk and go swimming several times a week. I also have a number of hobbies. One of those is participation with the local Repair Cafe, which I have written about before. This is a fun way to spend some time and I meet some great people, but it is also voluntary work that puts something back into my community. My big hobby, for most of my life, has been photography. It is a somewhat solitary activity, but I am an introvert and like time alone. However, it has its social side, as I am very active with my local camera club. I also give talks and judge competitions at other clubs. This is a fun way to spend an evening, meeting other photographers and seeing lots of images. I also have a policy of not claiming any expenses or charging any fees. I simply ask for a donation to my chosen charity, which is SightSavers. These guys do amazing work in third-world countries, restoring sight to countless people. At the beginning of an evening, I explain the plan to my audience: we will [hopefully] have an enjoyable evening and, as a result, change the lives of a few people by giving them the gift of sight. I made around $1000 for SightSavers in 2016, which was very pleasing.

I am not saying that I have a Grand Plan, which has resulted in my current lifestyle. It is much more random and fortuitous than that. What I have done is analyze what I find satisfying and rewarding and endeavor to emphasize and maximize those activities.

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