Monday, October 24, 2011

The Golden Hour

For Joe, who taught me that an hour is all you need.

There is an ongoing phenomenon currently happening on Facebook. In the past, it would not be unusual to see motivational quotes posted there. The ones I see are mostly those of runners. A little something to help them, and maybe others, get out the door. I admit to the occasional posting of a quote or two. But now, an almost universal and different type of posting has become very popular – the posting of images or pictures with a joke, or, more often, something deeper or motivational. Personally, I find this interesting, but not really why I go to Facebook. I had started writing this post and had decided to set it aside. Then I noticed one of those images. It said, “It is not about not having time. It is about making time.” That is the message I was working toward when I started writing this, but I did not like how it turned out. So, I was motivated to rewrite it.

This piece might inspire a few, and agitate some others. If it does at least those things, then I am happy to have written it.

What is an hour? It is one twenty-forth of the time it takes for the Earth to rotate once upon its axis. It is about three or four times longer than a typical shower. It is about one eighth of the time we sleep at night and work each day. Most of us will live, on average, about 657,000 hours before time no longer matters. If you are waiting and bored, an hour seems like a long time. If you are having fun or focused on a task, an hour seems much too short. An hour is a unit of the measurement of the passing of time. It is a creation of Man to give time meaning and duration.

An hour is golden - for in an hour, you can do something you have always wanted to do, you can take the path less traveled, you can change the course of your life, you can change the course of someone else’s life. An hour can make you happy for the rest of your life, or it can crush you. An hour is long enough to do significant things, but not so long as to make it a burden to use one for something you wish for each day. It is your Golden Hour. It is a key to happiness and a guard against regret.

An hour could have been something very different – a very different duration, or name, because it is the people of Earth who made it up. For those who have enjoyed watching Star Trek over the years, it likely is a surprise each time there is a new alien encounter, time will invariably still be measured in hours, minutes, and seconds as if there is a Universal Master Clock that measures time for all the same as we chose to do on Earth. Maybe. Maybe the Universal translator input, goes to an atomic clock and converts units to species output, so one hour comes out as 2.5679 Vulcanian tuts, or something. But, that just does not seem likely to me, especially since the translator did not come into play until the later series.

For all that an hour can be, in today’s world we seem to have too few of them in a given day to do all the things we claim we must do. The average human is, very simply, not very good at time management. But, each hour is precious, golden. Each hour we let go is an hour gone forever. The arithmetic is easy. You only have so many before there are no more. For some that end will come now, later today, tomorrow. For most it will be later, maybe thousands of hours later. Later will come. It will happen to each and every one of us. It is the way it is supposed to be.

So why do so many people say they do not have time to do something they love to do, or put off things they dream of doing? The average human is a creature of habit, routine, and excuses. We do not even know when we are doing it. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say they do not have time to exercise or run, that they do not know how I fit it into their busy days. There are two things that might be happening here, maybe both. First, it might be a lack of understanding or fear of change in routine. How to make that time in your day? The other is making an excuse out of fear, ignorance, or simply a wish to not explain their choices. Those folks cannot say, for some reason, I do not want to exercise (or whatever). I want to do something else.

Find something you really want to do, that stretches your mind, or your body, or your imagination, or your spirit. That is your choice. Enjoy whatever you do. Maybe you really do not have the time. But, if you want something, it becomes about making the time. Don’t live an excuse. Accept your choices.

Making the commitment to change something is the hard part. It might be the most difficult part of the challenge to achieve something you want. Excuses just let the hours slip away, used for something else.

My wife tells me that this topic comes up again and again in publications oriented toward professional women. There are rarely answers. The challenge for many is real. But, I have to believe, based on my observations, that it can be overcome. Yes, something else might have to give way, maybe something important.

How can it be done? I am the last one to give advice on making time to an overbooked mother, a single father, or a twenty-four hour per day CEO. However, I will tell you I have seen and known each one of these type people and others find a way to make time to do something they really want. They count those hours. They do not put off. They do.

I use running as the example here. Most of my readers are runners. It is also something many people dream of doing – running a marathon. It is something that cannot be put off forever, though age is not really a limitation, it does not help.

Most people think running takes lots and lots of time. As an ultra distance runner, I will not deny that it can take up huge chunks of time. But, that is a choice I have made. It does not have to be that way for just about everyone else.

The key is the Golden Hour. That is all it takes. One hour per day. Not every day, but most days. That includes changing, putting on your shoes, and finding your keys. It does not include the shower afterward. You will do that anyway. At least I hope so.

One hour.

Think about your day that you believe is packed so full. Maybe it is very full, but I will bet you can find an hour. What is it that makes your day so full? If you want to find an hour, you will find an hour. Maybe you need to use the hour that nominally belongs to something else. I could suggest many, but I will also get arguments why those are not up for trade. I am not here to make that kind of controversy.

I am here to talk about hours. They do not grow on trees. They cannot be harvested for future use. They come, you live them, and they are gone. Forever gone. Think about that for just a moment. It will be a moment well spent.

One of the beauties of running for exercise is that it takes so little time to prepare to do, and it can be done just about anywhere. I have known dedicated marathon runners who are also “soccer moms.” They would take their kids to the game and watch while running around the field. One hour – done. Nothing to it and the kids had fun, too. That is what I mean about taking an hour that might belong to something else and using it for you, too.

Of course, there will be days when things do not seem to go anything as planned, and your hour for running somehow gets lost. Some people like to run just after getting up to make sure nothing gets in the way. I am not like that. Mornings are evil. But, when I have had to, I will run in the morning. Maybe that will be the only time you can fit it in that day. Or, it is OK to say it is not going to happen on this day. I will find time tomorrow. That is fine. Running/exercising should be fun, not added stress. If anything, it is a stress reliever when kept in perspective. Sometimes maybe you just do not want to use your hour for exercise or running. Sometimes I sit in my backyard for that hour and smoke a cigar, or watch the hummingbirds feed, or just enjoy the sun.

Sometimes in my hour of doing whatever I want to do, I think about why so many people put off doing something they dream of doing. Why, when we have so few hours in our lives do so many waste theirs doing little or nothing but dreaming of what they will do. I know the truth of this statement: waiting will end in tears for far too many. Live life now. Do not wait. Get ready for something big, and then go do it. For most, that will take little more than an hour most days.

Those of you who have followed my writings know that I have little patience for delay of dreams, and for those who suggest they think dreams are a waste of time. Time is all we have. It is like currency that we cannot earn, only spend. We can spend it on happiness, or we can spend it without thought until it is gone. Those who do not cherish their time will find only regret in the end. And regret is a high price to pay for anything.

Do not waste time. Use every minute of it for something you want, or you feel good about doing. There is no better feeling to have for the rest of your time than knowing that you have used your time well. Then your clock can run down, and you will have a smile on your face.

One hour. One Golden Hour.

It is my hour. It is your hour. Make it matter.


“Badwater” Bill
Tujunga, CA


  1. Thanks for the inspiration, Bill. I'll make sure to get in my hour of running today!

    If I can just fit in three of these hours every week, consistently for a year, I feel like I'll be in a really good place.

  2. Nice post, Bill. I'm a big believer in No Excuses...for anything. We are all 100% responsible for everything in our lives - good and bad.