Friday, March 18, 2011

Want: More Time

In the 140 years since the publication of the Dictionary of Every-day Wants, America has changed a lot. We’ve gone from steam to oil to electricity, from snail mail to e-mail to text messages. But there’s one fundamental thing that hasn’t changed, and maybe never will—the day is just too short for accomplishing everything we want to do.

Youman began his venerable book by acknowledging that fact: “every hour, every minute has its money value.” Pitched as an “aid to the progressive hurrying spirit of the age,” the Dictionary isn’t so different from the Real Simple magazine that shows up in my mailbox each month. Youman gives tips for keeping the kettle clean (insert an oyster shell before use!); Real Simple gives tips for storing grocery bags for reuse (use an old tissue box!). The family resemblance between the two isn’t so hard to spot.

I could use a bit more time in my day, too, so I’ve decided to scale back on the publication schedule of this blog. While a new topic every day was a noble goal, it’s not really sustainable: A thoughtful post can take hours to prepare, and I’m not really interested in producing any other kind.

So for now, expect two entries a week—Monday and Friday. In the meanwhile, you could always do some extracurricular reading of the Dictionary on the slightly evil (yet completely addictive) Google Books.

Keep in mind, though, the lesson I learned the hard way after devouring an entire advent calendar’s worth of chocolate one December 1st. Savoring something is best done slowly—one bite at a time.

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