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Writing Prompts

How Will You Use Today’s Extra Time?

by Matilda Butler on June 30, 2015

Writing Prompt LogoPost #217 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Matilda Butler


Do you have a plan for today’s extra time?

clock Wait a minute. Extra time? Yes, today (June 30, 2015), we get an extra second. Think of this like a leap second. I’ve always loved a leap year. Every four years, I get an extra day. How great is that! Sure, eventually it gets just as scheduled as every other day. But I love taking just a little bit of time to appreciate that there are 24 extra hours that I get to have.

Well this year, we all get a leap second. And that is exactly the way Wikipedia explains today’s extra time:

A leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to keep its time of day close to the mean solar time. Without such a correction, time reckoned by Earth’s rotation drifts away from atomic time because of irregularities in the Earth’s rate of rotation. Since this system of correction was implemented in 1972, 25 such leap seconds have been inserted. The most recent one happened on June 30, 2012 at 23:59:60 UTC. A leap second will again be inserted at the end of June 30, 2015 at 23:59:60 UTC.

A second isn’t much…or is it?

clock and memoir writingYou are probably thinking that I’m making a big fuss over a second. It will take me many seconds (actually many, many, many seconds) just to write this post. So why bother?

If you follow this blog, you know by now that I find many links between life-living and memoir-writing. Both call for mindfulness. And for many of us, a second is about the smallest unit of time that we can pay attention to. Sure, there are nano-seconds. A quick search on the Internet informs me that there is something even smaller — the smallest unit of time that will ever be possible (really, that’s what I found out). It is called Planck time — measured by the amount of time light takes to move one Planck length. Trust me, you don’t even want to know the formula to figure that out.

So, let’s go back to seconds, plain, ordinary seconds. We know there are 60 of them in a minute. They seem insubstantial. They usually fly by quickly. Who ever notices. Well, there are exceptions and I’ve got an example of one. Have you ever bid on an item on Ebay? I wanted to get the Anton Michelsen Christmas spoon for the birth year of my sons and daughter-in-laws. Since each spoon is only made for one year and the mold is then destroyed, the best way to find one from a specific year is to check on Ebay. And that’s what I found myself doing for Christmas. When I found one from the desired year, I wanted to purchase it. But as you know, Ebay usually doesn’t work that way. There is a stated lowest price and a specific time by which you have to make a bid if you hope to purchase the item. Most people wait until the last second possible to place and bid so that it is harder for someone to outbid you.

So here we are looking at seconds again. I find I can watch the countdown auction timer until it gets to about 9 seconds before clicking on the bid button. That provides enough time for my computer to interact with my wifi and my wifi to send the message to Ebay and for Ebay to send a Confirm? message back to my wifi and from there to my computer so that I can say “Yes” and repeat the necessary cyber actions to Ebay — all before the timer gets down to zero seconds.

As soon as the countdown timer gets to 59 seconds, I pay close attention. I have my bid already typed in the box and I’m hovering my cursor over the Place Bid button. Then I watch time pass in what appears to be slow motion.

58 …
57 …
56 …
55 …

Well, you get the point.

And speaking of points, what exactly is mine?

clockAs we get our extra second today, I hope you will be mindful with it and with all of your seconds. I hope that you will pay attention to the time you allocate to live an examined life. I hope you will notice how you use your time.

If you want to write about your life, do you allocate adequate time for this task? Do you honor your commitment to write?

And what about the other facets of your life? Do days fly by while you nurse unhappiness or anger? You can’t get those days, those hours, those minutes, those seconds back.

Cherish each second. Spend them wisely because once gone, we can’t go back and retrieve them. Appreciate and value time.

Memoir Writing Prompt

1. Write your goals for today. What’s on your to-do list?

2. How important is each item that you want to accomplish?

3. How do you prioritize your list? Do you spend time on what’s most important or do you dash off the easiest ones, even if they aren’t particularly important. We probably all do that but the lesson is obvious. When I get to the end of the day and haven’t “found” time for what’s important in my life and on my list, I realize I shouldn’t have spend my precious seconds on those easy items.

4. So now, at the end of this list of prompts, reconsider your extra second today. It is incredibly valuable. How will you use it? Maybe, just maybe, you’ll write another word or two in your memoir, or get a flash of insight into that long-ago gone-wrong relationship. Or maybe you’ll just decide to laugh and share a bit of joy.

Enjoy your extra time.

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