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A Waste of Time

In the very diverse hip area of Jaffa at the south end of Tel Aviv where we just stayed for two weeks, sits the old, famous shop selling delicious pastries and a culinary invention called “toast”.  Toast is like a huge bagel-panini stuffed with whatever you want. The guys behind the counter, which is right on the street, wear teeshirts that say “Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies”.

Ah, if it were only true throughout the Middle East rather than just in this small enclave of mosques abutting synagogues, neighboring churches.

But ignoring politics and embracing culture is much more fulfilling right now.

There is an expression used in Tel Aviv that I love: “Haval al hazman!” Literally it means ”a waste of time”. But the stupendous thing is that this phrase is used to mean “It’s fabulous!”

Suppose you bake someone a cake and bring it to their home. They might well say “Haval al hazman!”

Think about it. The idea of wasting time as the highest praise! Or, alternatively, you could interpret it as “such an honor that you would waste your precious time for me!”

The idea of putting a high value on wasting time is a new and radical concept for me. I need to really consider this.

I am quite neurotic about time. I do not “waste” it at all. I do not “waste time” in a somewhat extreme way. I’m beginning to think that how I go about living each day is very wrong.

I feel guilty if I am reading a book. I feel guilty if I am not eating lunch at my desk. Thankfully, I do not feel guilty when I am working out or taking long walks because, I reason neurotically, I need to keep my body in shape so that I can keep on “doing” stuff and not “waste time”.

I am an annoying person, am I not? Jeez, after reading this, I don’t even want to be my own friend.

One expression that I detest is when someone says “lighten up”. It is so condescending and dismissive of the other person’s thoughts. However, I have only one thing to say to myself at this point:

Lighten up, Margery!  

All right. Ok. I am going to try to live differently. I am off now to sit in a café and read a book.

How long do you think I need to stay? More than 5 minutes? Would 15 be enough?

©2015 Margery Leveen Sher

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Reader Comments (5)

Haval al hazman, what a great noticing!

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Sher

Interesting timepiece. It's set at 4 minutes to midnight. That's one minute behind the famous Doomsday Clock ( of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which was recently moved up to 3 minutes to midnight, on account of global climate change. 4 minutes to midnight is just a bit less ominous. But the clock is ticking. Is that one remaining minute a "waste of time"? Time will tell.

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWally

Hi Margery! One of my goals for 2015 is to learn to waste time, especially now that we're living in the VA countryside where everything is slower. I am okay at wasting it, not so good at failing to feel guilty about wasting it.
Keep those baby photos coming, he always makes me smile.

March 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine Morrison

"Wasting time" is all relative to what you value. Is time spent noticing "wasting time?" Sometimes we are totally focused on a particular goal, and anything else seems like "wasted time" relative to that purpose. But perhaps time is never wasted if we are fully in the moment and savoring it, no matter what we are doing.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpondificator


June 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBK

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