The Joker’s Dilemma


Inexorably moving. Ever present. Scarce.

None of us know how much time we have on this earth – ‘cept One. Many never live to see their first birthday and few will see their hundredth. It is ironic that a seemingly infinite, ethereal resource is experienced in such a finite and limited way. Nevertheless, it is this scarcity that imbues the preciousness of time.

Consequently, I often find myself asking, “To what end? What purpose?”.

When did I start feeling guilty about having free time to just sit back and play a game? Please don’t misunderstand me, I think many adults often miss out on having fun in life and developing relationships with others simply because they cannot enjoy having “free time” by themselves or with others. Free time is really a misnomer. Nothing is truly free.

Nevertheless, I hear the Joker leeringly whispering in my ear, “Why so serious?”.

Perhaps it is my introverted nature that causes this sort of introspection or the prospect of facing a mid-life existential crisis in my 30s, but I am highly aware that the choices and decisions I make all come with their own set of opportunity costs. When you’re young and blissfully ignorant of how fast time can pass you by the future lies before you with all its wondrous representation of hope and possibility. However, regret and irresponsibility go hand in hand – tightly bound together in our psyche with immaturity and foolishness.

That said, I don’t think having responsibility and maturity means that one should have a soulless existence devoid of mirth and laughter. At its most ideal, life should be fun and joyous, but many people feel trapped in a life filled not with what they like to do, but what they should or must do according to external expectations and internal pressures.

I think many of us, on some level, want to make the most out of life. Unfortunately, there’s no simple rule book on how to succeed in the balancing act game we all play with our time. I desire to be professionally successful, yet, I do not wish this success to come at the cost of spending time with my family or participating in activities that I enjoy even though they might not bring me any monetary return.

The modern life is hectic enough. There is a constant demand for our attention. Advances in technology and the following productivity and efficiency gains (while making certain things easier and more convenient) have not resulted in an increase in leisure or time for the things that truly matter when we’re approaching the century mark with our age and I feel confident in asserting that cheap robotic butlers are still a couple of decades away.

A life filled with purpose, meaning, and warm, close relationships with others is what so many of us desire. I, for one, want a simple life. This does not mean I wish to live a life of mediocrity – lacking in adventure or accomplishment. Rather, it means cutting out or limiting things that are of little worth.

Lynyrd Skynyrd says it well.

“Simple Man”

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say.
And if you do this
It will help you some sunny day.
Take your time… Don’t live too fast,
Troubles will come and they will pass.
Go find a woman and you’ll find love,
And don’t forget son,
There is someone up above.

And be a simple kind of man.
Be something you love and understand.
Baby, be a simple kind of man.
Oh won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul,
And you can do this if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.