I thought I’d have more time.
Every time I give up lots of pleasures, I expect to have more time for things like writing, prayer, going to Mass, working around the house, etc. But, instead, I find I have less time than ever.
I watch just about every St. Louis Blues hockey game. I scour the internet for information and entertainment. I watch a couple of television shows a week. I go to happy hours with friends. All activities consume a certain amount of time, especially hockey, nine hours a week. Added up, I am abstaining from about 18 hours a week of everyday activities.
Instead of having time to read, write, and pray, I find myself struggling to get in the things I must do. You have to wonder if I shirk responsibilities nine months out of the year or if something in the cosmos handles my calendar for me. Or, maybe I’m just a victim of Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law states that “the time required to perform a task expands to consume the time available.” Here’s a helpful graph demonstrating Parkinson’s Law:
When William F. Buckley prepared for his numerous transoceanic sailing adventures, he imposed a rule: no one may board the boat more than one hour before castoff. He made the rule in deference to Parkinson’s Law, which he modified to say, “work expands to fill the time available.” He noticed that, if given additional time, people tend to fill it with unnecessary tasks discovered as if by chance at the last minute.
The one time he relaxed this rule owing to some extraneous circumstances, instead of getting underway early, the crew got underway several hours late. In addition, some unplanned activity added to fill the expanded time ended up requiring several more hours than expected.
Another possibility is that God steps in to make our abstinence easier. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” the old saying goes. If urgent matters did not arise to demand the time made available by activities set aside, I would tend to perseverate on my sacrifice. As a result, I would resent the whole Exodus 90 practice. Even more insidious, I would grow to resent you, dear reader.
Through trial, error, and eventual success, I learned that the only way to quit smoking is to tell absolutely no one but God. No one.