I did a bad thing when I was in Aldi today.
Okay, “bad” is a stretch – I’m turning into my father. Scratch “bad.” I did a foolish thing when I was in Aldi today. That’s better.
I spent three full minutes bickering with myself about which tomatoes I should buy.
My conundrum was simple: Although the Specially Selected vine-ripened tomatoes are leagues ahead of the pale, mid-range ones flavour-wise, they’re about 60 pence more expensive. And whilst I like a good tomato as much as the next old-timey Spanish house-wife, I’m not made of money. I could not choose. My life flashed before my eyes. It felt so very important that I make this decision wisely.
Well, you’ll be glad to hear that I snapped out of it before long. I cursed myself for how long this relatively simple and cosmically meaningless decision had already taken, took the nicer ones off the shelf, and put them in my trolley. But as I walked round doing the rest of my little mid-week shop, I dwelled on my idiocy of a few minutes prior.
“Space, I can recover. Time, never.”Napoleon Bonaparte
There was no sense in beating myself up – I do that enough without good reason – but it did feel like a teachable moment.
Because what I had done is I had forgotten the one thing I try to always remember about time: You don’t get time back. It’s non-renewable. And so it matters how you spend it.
And whilst I could certainly have wasted time more spectacularly today than than spending a few minutes giving serious thought to whether sixty pence is really worth it for nicer tomatoes, at a certain point it doesn’t matter.
A waste of time is a waste of time. Whether it’s huge or whether it’s miniscule, it’s to be avoided at all costs.
I had this in my mind when, as I put a box of Groovy Biscuits in my trolley for Emma, I gently reminded myself that the privilege of being born a human being is that I get to be master of my time. I get to decide what I do with it. And if I don’t want it to go to waste, then it’s entirely up to me to put it somewhere worthwhile.
And that place will never be having a serious debate over sixty pence and two kinds of tomato.