Empty Foresight

One of my favorite expressions, one that I used to employ frequently but no longer do, is, “This is X-number of minutes I am never getting back.” I would say this after experiencing something incredibly boring and frustrating, like waiting on line only to discover that I was waiting on the wrong line the entire time, or when I was in a traffic jam in which I learned that the hold-up was people gawking at an accident which by itself would not have created the traffic jam.

The worst, the most empty and useless, four-word sequence in the English language is, “You should have done … .” It is hindsight—something no one likes to be accused of using—masquerading as foresight, something everyone likes to be credited with possessing. “You should have driven this route instead of the one with the traffic accident-gawking crowd that no one knew was going to show up.” It is really a way of saying, “I knew better.” Those particular three words are more honest and would be welcomed if they were said more often, but more honest punches might be thrown more frequently as a result.

Each traffic jam that I could foresee and thus avoid in my future would be worth losing several days at the end, because in traffic jams, I am Marcello Mastroianni at the beginning of Fellini’s “8 1/2”:


Simply possessing a low tolerance point for boredom, ennui, la noia, is no reason to desire future sight, however. Again, I have heard myself say, while speaking through hindsight, that minutes just now spent attending to one of life’s boring chores or bad movies (“that’s 90 minutes of my life I can’t get back”) is time now lost to me forever. I realize that this is merely me casting the mean gaze of life’s many “You should have dones” on myself. And it is as useless as when some annoying not-so-good-doer offers unsolicited advice, ex post facto. (Someone ahead of me on line at my bank once told me I should have come in earlier or later, and not at prime time, which is when we were both standing there, on line. If he had been behind me, this would have made annoyingly good sense—for him—as it might have encouraged me to leave and allow him to move up one spot. But in front of me?)

This realization is why I no longer find myself saying, “That’s X-number of minutes I will never get back” any more, as tempting as I find the sarcasm, and I do find sarcasm tempting. Annoying and boring moments, tense moments of delay, torturous moments of anticipation in waiting rooms, these are a part of life and I can escape them here and now or I can choose to be bored. (I will not tell any child of mine that “only boring people are bored.”) Why hurry myself to the end (i.e. lose a day) just to avoid them?

But what if I could tell myself in the here and now when those boring “not going to get these minutes back” are coming up? Hmm. (That’s the sound of thinking.) Hmmmm. Perhaps if I could hone my powers of sarcasm for good instead of ill and use that spidey sense to predict imminent boredom? Then it wouldn’t be boring.


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  1. rogershipp · July 3, 2015

    Honing for the good instead of evil is always a great thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LRose · July 3, 2015

    It’s de ja vu all over again! Reading this…like, I saw into the hour ahead this morning and am now back in the same hour behind me. Nevertheless, there are not *fewer* hours in the day now, nor am I *lessened* by the re-reading of your post (even if you edited out the grammar-nazi stuff). And if you or any of your readers understand any of this comment, then I guess I don’t need to see The Big Lebowski .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SD Gates · July 3, 2015

    Moments of boredom, can be allayed…just sink into your mind…daydream. Makes the time go by quickly and in the end, one might come up with some really brilliant ideas or thoughts. Of course, it seems today, everyone just plays games on their telephone and they accomplish nothing. Love the post, love Fellini!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loisajay · July 3, 2015

    Sometimes honing your powers of sarcasm for ill is a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Hindsight is 50/50 | The Gad About Town

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