Thursday, 2 September 2010

day 23: time

ironic that today's topic is something i'm pretty short on just at the moment. mostly because, as i mentioned in an earlier post, it's the end of ramadan & i've been spending my time on other things. also the energy is running quite low at the moment, so this is going to be a shorter post.

time is something that many of us take for granted, but having time to do the things we want to do is a huge privilege. leisure time is often related to wealth. those who are time-poor will often be cash poor. i remember a somalian woman i know, with three kids. she would work from 9-5pm as an interpreter, then as soon as that job was finished she would be picking mushrooms until midnight. her kids were basically brought up by her mother, and i'm not sure when she ever got to spend any substantial time with them. when i'd see her, she looked extremely tired with bags under her eyes, but it was the only way she could earn enough to feed her family. (yeah, i'm definitely feeling sheepish complaining about tiredness - i really don't know how she managed)

that's how it is for many people in our society, forget about developing countries with extremely poor labour laws. people working 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet, plus having the responsibility of managing a household. many may not have extended families available for support and won't be able to afford childcare. for them, leisure time is non-existant.

in this regard, i'm extremely lucky. i work part time, for 25 hours a week and this means i have the time to do other things. this is why i can contribute to other organisations that are important to me, why i get time to blog, why i can be with my children, why i can read books or go to movies or even go on holiday. if i'm busy, it's because i choose to be that way, and could quite easily choose not to be.

many people i know run small businesses - dairies, petrol stations and the like. these people are usually working from 6 in the morning til 8 at night, 7 days a week. they get christmas day off, easter sunday & maybe half of anzac day. sometimes not even that, because they are providing essentials so can remain open even on those days. they struggle to find family time, and have very little by way of a social life.

we hear similar stories of sweatshops overseas, where workers spend 14 hours a day, often on their feet, at mundane jobs. they are working these hours 6 days a week. exhaustion can and often does lead to despair.

lack of time is often a gendered issue. i often see women struggling to manage households with young children as well as elderly people depending on them. the expectations on their performance can be pretty high and therefore stressful. time for themselves is something that no-one around them considers a need, so they just don't get any.

[ETA: i did forget to consider the issue of those with too much time, time which passes slowly and hangs heavily as a burden. it could be because of unemployment, ill health, chronic pain, loneliness or other reasons. it's all very well to look down on people with too much time on their hands, and tell them to get off their backsides. but if it was so easy, i'm sure those people would have done it. lack of motivation or ability to get things done can be a result of depression or any number of other things.]

because many issues around time are actually issues around labour rights, i'd advocate the same causes as i did in my post on employment. certainly, increasing the minimum wage is crucial, so that low-paid workers can work fewer hours to survive.

for those who struggle to with unfriendly hours of work (paid or unpaid), and who don't find time for themselves, my thoughts & prayers are with you.

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