How To Make More Time
Human beings have always been short of time, it’s a fundamental idiosyncrasy of our life experience.
References to the brevity of our existence have been made since the dawn of time. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor said “‘In the life of a man, his time is but a moment”, life is gone in a flash.
Back in 1930, the outrageously hurried pace of modern existence was noted by the elegant food writer Edouard de Pomiane, who wrote ‘La Cuisine en Dix Minutes ou l’Adaptation au Rythme Modern’, which translates as ‘Cooking in Ten Minutes or The Adaptation to the Rhythm of our Times’. The book was written as an antidote to the frenetic pace of society, a threat to our ability to enjoy life. While the overall pace may have been different to today, the underlying theme was the same — Pomiane believed there wasn’t enough time to eat.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if cavemen came back from a hard week’s hunting with their catch, prepared the spoils of their venture before roundly declaring that time was too short to eat properly and thus fell asleep, exhausted.
For this reason, junk food will always triumph over home cooking. It’s in our nature to be drawn to products or services which save time, which dangle the alluring promise of extra time to enjoy ourselves. Trying to grasp a few spare minutes for the enjoyment of life by eating on the go plays on a fundamental trait of humanity, we can’t get around this fact. Food manufacturers know this, so they create highly profitable products which take advantage of it – junk food.
The recent recommendation to ban eating on public transport may sound draconian, but I disagree, it’s actually empowering.
Sometimes we get ideas upside down, we jump to conclusions without looking at the issue from another angle. In the UK, it’s legal to smoke in outdoor public places, but illegal to smoke inside. In Japan, it’s the other way around. Smoking in the street is illegal, while bars are allowed to let people smoke all night.
The Japanese logic is that outdoor public places cannot contain the smoke, therefore non-smokers can easily end up mixing with smokers. By allowing people to smoke indoors at designated places, it contains the smokers in places where the non-smokers have a choice about entering.
Banning eating on public transport proposes a welcome push away from junk food, it limits people’s ability to consume it legally, it puts in a boundary. If eating on the train is the only time you have to eat, then there’s something imbalanced in both your life and society, which has created that situation. Eating junk food on a train is not the answer to this imbalance, it’s a coping strategy and not objectively healthy behaviour.
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, male or female, marginalised or not. If you are habitually consuming food on public transport, whatever your reason for doing it, something is amiss in your life, which needs fixing. Consuming food on public transport simply hides that fact, it hides that fact there’s a deeper problem here.