Timing it

It was two-toned taupe. The color of see-through. Of invisible. But this 1977 Honda hatchback — it with only 4 speeds, with only AM radio, with only manual windows and manual steering — was mine. And this car traveled. “Let me understand again: you’re going there and back in 30 minutes? Have you timed this?” My father’s “have you timed this?” was often-repeated shorthand for “You’re trying to do too much, but I won’t be the one to tell you.” He’d verbally tick off minutes per activity, and more importantly, account for the spaces in between. Five minutes here, 20 minutes there. Suddenly, my estimates were in a different ballpark. Not accounting for travel time, he would point out, made it impossible to achieve what I said I’d do. “If you add it all up, you can’t possibly do it in under two hours.” And just like that, every time, he was right.

Music is the space between the notes. It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play.”
—Miles Davis

Even as I write, highly punctual people may be misunderstanding what they do. So focused are we to get from Point A to B, we forget to account for the spaces in between. Travel time, rest stops, project hand-offs, intermissions, training sessions, building foyers, sleep. These transition points — the things getting in the way of Point B — rarify them invisible. And with that, we may only be seeing part of what we really do.

The space between

See also:
Shirish Sukhatme’s definition of voids

In travel, this oversight renders us simply late. Perhaps harmless save some inconvenience. But if our half-seeing spills over to other areas, we may miss the miles of creeping transition points between the things. And projects go incorrectly scoped, budgets are exceeded, friends’ diligence is unrequited — there’s a general disinformation of tasks.

Focus on what happens between A and B. Consider the positive and the negative space. By paying mind to the in-betweens, we may be better representatives of what we actually do.

And yes, I’ve timed it.