I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how time is spent. Particularly mine. You see, I used to be the guy who would go home, enjoy a couple hours on the couch, read some, write some, listen to a shit-ton of music, go to shows, or otherwise enjoy leisure. I used to revel in every opportunity I had to do nothing. I loved doing nothing. A Saturday afternoon of nothing was like plugging my brain into a battery charger. It gave me life.

At some point, though, I became a different guy. I became the guy who’s always got something on. I worked in the city, and when I lost my job, it was like I went super-rebound-slut on my own existence, pledging myself to obligations by the handful. I worked part-time. I started a website that still eats up a goodly portion of my days. I went back to school. Last summer, I took a month with my wife and went to Vermont to write (writing being what I’m still back in school for), and I didn’t even tell either of the two bands I was in that I was going, because I figured I’d just drive the four hours back from Vermont to go to band practice.

And while I was up there, coming up on a year ago now, I got the call asking me to come back to The Aquarian full-time, and I said I would, because, well, what’s one more thing? And this winter, when both my bands petered out, one and then the other, I put myself on the hook for three. Of course, they didn’t all actually come together, but for a couple weeks there, I had actually added one more from where I started. I’m supposed to believe this is a good thing, that this is the stuff of life. It’s sad.

Clarence Clemons died this week. He had a stroke and then he died. He was huge at 6’5”, lived a musician’s dream life as a member of the E Street Band and then he wasn’t alive anymore.

This week, I also attended the wake of a guy I went to college with. He had leukemia and didn’t know it, thought his headaches and blurred vision were from stress, and didn’t want to go to the doctor because he didn’t have insurance. By the time he went to the hospital, he was about a day away from a coma, and I was just a couple days from awkwardly pretending to pray in front of his open casket. He was 30 years old.

I was planning on using that story to fuel a whole rant for this week’s column about how easily prevented his death could have been if our healthcare system were better (or, say, at all) regulated, but I’m not qualified to do that. I’m not qualified to eulogize Clarence Clemons either. The more I sit here and type this column late Sunday nights, the more I have to wonder just what the fuck it is I am qualified for. Other than typing. I’m a hell of a typist.

The idea though is time. Not that it’s limited, not that it’s precious—because most often, it isn’t—but that it’s there. That it’s something we all face, and something that should unite us that doesn’t. I don’t think there’s any deeper meaning to be derived from that, it just is. I guess it’s whatever you make of it, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to say that.

So what do we do with time? Well, I used to leave it empty and now I fill it. I don’t know if the one is better than the other since I don’t have nostalgia (yet) for the kind of desperately consuming lifestyle I lead, but if I figure that out, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I hope you spend yours wisely.


JJ Koczan



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