[okay, from this point we can pick all sorts of things to pass as a two-word summary, but as this is my rant, and I claim no exclusivity for this particular choice, I'm just going ahead with it, okay? Fine, I knew you would.]
(ahem, as I was saying...)
Basically since we are all thrown into this world with some unknown number of years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds in which to figure out what the heck is going on and what we want to do about it, that's the whole problem. What to do with this time I've got?
So we start out, and time is nicely parceled out for us by the big powerful people around us. Feeding time, bedtime, playtime, time to go out, time to come in. Time to go potty. Time to learn to dress yourself. Story time, whatever. Whoops, now it's time to go to school for what? Twelve years, make that sixteen or twenty, so that we can do what next? Sell blocks of time to the highest bidder! That's called "getting a job." Why do we do that, Why, of course, to do what we want with our copious leftover "free time" for which we pay all the sweat and toil of our years of education and whatever we now end up doing.
If, in the middle of all the being dragged hither and yon for what is called education and training we actually are fortunate enough to figure out what we like to do, AND engineer things in such a way that we can include some such activity in the time we end up selling to the highest bidder, this is called, in the parlance of modern culture, having a satisfying life/career/job. Supposing we can arrange to have persons of our own choosing in near proximity, for significant chucks of time, this is also regarded as a Good Thing; with which I do not disagree.
But the plain fact of the matter seems to be that it is all to easy for a person to wake up at twenty-something, or thirtysomething, or fifty, or even at whatever passes for retirement age these days, and find out that very little thought has gone into the matter of figuring out what the blazes one wants to do when one grows up, anyway.
In my own case, I've been fortunate. At thirty-five I still had the feeling that I was waiting around for my life to begin. But while waiting I did a few things: mostly collected some friends along the way, this being more important to my way of thinking than collecting those odd bits of data represented by numbers on record in financial institutions. Never had much in the way of net worth, as such things are measured, but I'm a rich guy for all that. At the half-century mark I decided to put some thought into the matter of those pesky numbers, mostly because of some vague thought about the mythical notion of free time that is supposed to become available somewhere before one reaches the three-quarter-century mark, based on having sold enough time that one now has a surplus of money to show for it. Hah. Anyway, as a result I've learned, this late in life, to actually manage a budget in a planned and organized way.
Always figured I could have got rich if I'd ever actually put my mind to it. This is likely true; I just always figured I had better things to do with my time than that.
But I find that, bad as I was at budgeting my money, I've also been very bad at dealing with how to use the hours and minutes. And with reminders of mortality screaming at me from every morning's newspaper, there are a few things I find that are, I think, important to get done in the next, say, fifty to sixty-five years, or whatever portion thereof actually remains to me.
As I read the history of ideas throughout Western civilization, I find that the most brilliant and influential minds in history —the handful that you'll find in the college textbooks —are remembered, generally speaking, for having, at most, one good idea, each. Just one idea is enough to keep the best in any given generation busy for a lifetime. Usually it takes decades of work and voluminous writings to get that idea, if only marginally, articulated well enough to begin to enter into the collective mind of the civilization at large.
I'd like to articulate an idea before I die; one that could perhaps help keep this planet from self-destruction. I have a notion of what it is, and it is this that I am pregnant with; and this, O God, is going to require some time.
No, of course I'm not arrogant. Why do you ask?