THE CAUSE OF THE TROUBLES





In order to come to grips at once with the question of time-

expenditure in all its actuality, I must choose an individual case

for examination. I can only deal with one case, and that case

cannot be the average case, because there is no such case as the

average case, just as there is no such man as the average man.

Every man and every man's case is special.



But if I take the case of a Londoner who works in an office, whose

office hours are from ten to six, and who spends fifty minutes

morning and night in travelling between his house door and his

office door, I shall have got as near to the average as facts

permit. There are men who have to work longer for a living, but

there are others who do not have to work so long.



Fortunately the financial side of existence does not interest us

here; for our present purpose the clerk at a pound a week is exactly

as well off as the millionaire in Carlton House-terrace.



Now the great and profound mistake which my typical man makes in

regard to his day is a mistake of general attitude, a mistake which

vitiates and weakens two-thirds of his energies and interests. In

the majority of instances he does not precisely feel a passion for

his business; at best he does not dislike it. He begins his

business functions with reluctance, as late as he can, and he ends

them with joy, as early as he can. And his engines while he is

engaged in his business are seldom at their full "h.p." (I know

that I shall be accused by angry readers of traducing the city

worker; but I am pretty thoroughly acquainted with the City, and I

stick to what I say.)



Yet in spite of all this he persists in looking upon those hours

from ten to six as "the day," to which the ten hours preceding them

and the six hours following them are nothing but a prologue and

epilogue. Such an attitude, unconscious though it be, of course

kills his interest in the odd sixteen hours, with the result that,

even if he does not waste them, he does not count them; he regards

them simply as margin.



This general attitude is utterly illogical and unhealthy, since it

formally gives the central prominence to a patch of time and a bunch

of activities which the man's one idea is to "get through" and have

"done with." If a man makes two-thirds of his existence subservient

to one-third, for which admittedly he has no absolutely feverish

zest, how can he hope to live fully and completely? He cannot.



If my typical man wishes to live fully and completely he must, in

his mind, arrange a day within a day. And this inner day, a Chinese

box in a larger Chinese box, must begin at 6 p.m. and end at 10 a.m.

It is a day of sixteen hours; and during all these sixteen hours he

has nothing whatever to do but cultivate his body and his soul and

his fellow men. During those sixteen hours he is free; he is not a

wage-earner; he is not preoccupied with monetary cares; he is just

as good as a man with a private income. This must be his attitude.

And his attitude is all important. His success in life (much more

important than the amount of estate upon what his executors will

have to pay estate duty) depends on it.



What? You say that full energy given to those sixteen hours will

lessen the value of the business eight? Not so. On the contrary,

it will assuredly increase the value of the business eight. One of

the chief things which my typical man has to learn is that the

mental faculties are capable of a continuous hard activity; they do

not tire like an arm or a leg. All they want is change--not rest,

except in sleep.



I shall now examine the typical man's current method of employing

the sixteen hours that are entirely his, beginning with his

uprising. I will merely indicate things which he does and which I

think he ought not to do, postponing my suggestions for "planting"

the times which I shall have cleared--as a settler clears spaces in

a forest.



In justice to him I must say that he wastes very little time before

he leaves the house in the morning at 9.10. In too many houses he

gets up at nine, breakfasts between 9.7 and 9.9 1/2, and then bolts.

But immediately he bangs the front door his mental faculties, which

are tireless, become idle. He walks to the station in a condition

of mental coma. Arrived there, he usually has to wait for the

train. On hundreds of suburban stations every morning you see men

calmly strolling up and down platforms while railway companies

unblushingly rob them of time, which is more than money. Hundreds

of thousands of hours are thus lost every day simply because my

typical man thinks so little of time that it has never occurred to

him to take quite easy precautions against the risk of its loss.



He has a solid coin of time to spend every day--call it a sovereign.

He must get change for it, and in getting change he is content to

lose heavily.



Supposing that in selling him a ticket the company said, "We will

change you a sovereign, but we shall charge you three halfpence for

doing so," what would my typical man exclaim? Yet that is the

equivalent of what the company does when it robs him of five minutes

twice a day.



You say I am dealing with minutiae. I am. And later on I will

justify myself.



Now will you kindly buy your paper and step into the train?





THE BRENNAN MONORAIL CAR THE CHRISTIAN AN EPISTLE OF CHRIST. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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