The origin of the idiom 'time on your hands' isn't known; what scholars do know, though, is that this saying is an old one. The earliest printed example available is from Charles Lamb's 1833 Last Essay of Elia: “It seemed to me that I had more time on my hands than I could ever manage.
“La soledad me pesa. La compañía también.”
“Solitude weighs on me. Company does too.”
Jorge Luís Borges
With all the time in my hands, living alone with two cats and as a magazine photographer of yore being now obsolete, redundant, retired & inconsequential, I do a lot of thinking. Plenty of it happens at night and this prevents me from getting a good night sleep.
I sort of speak two languages (Argentine Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Canadian English and Texan English with a smattering of Tagalog). This means that I am constantly shifting gears from one to another, and, especially so since because I have so much time in my hands, I do lots of reading in both Spanish and English. This means that I am constantly observing, comparing and contrasting words in both those languages and discovering how some words do not have equivalents from one to another.
As I have written here before, Astor Piazzolla knew what he was doing when he gave one of his loveliest compositions a name in English,Oblivion. The word translates into Spanish as olvido which means forgotten. Strangely oblivion has a philosophic synonym in Enbglish nothingness. Nothingness and nothing do not mean the same thing and the Spanish nada does not in any way relate to nothingness.
Of late in my solitude I have been thinking of that lovely word in Spanish soledad. As a just-why-not, I would like to add here that Art Bergmann many years ago had a girlfriend with the lovely name of Soledad. The origin of the meaning behind solitude in English is not as direct as in Spanish as solo, alone is the root of soledad. A not too often used word in English because it sounds awkward is aloneness.
Soledad is much in my thoughts but I have come to the conclusion that I am not completely alone. My two cats, Niño and Niña are constantly with me like glue and they vie for my attention. Walking Niño around the block (without a leash) on nice days provides me with good company even though it reminds me that Rosemary is who taught Niño to gallivant in our neighbourhood.
My grandmother used to tell me, “El que espera desespera.” This can barely be translated as in Spanish there is a play on words involving esperar to wait and to desesperar to despair. So my grandmother’s expression would translate as, “He who waits will despair.”
Somehow these words below by Epicurus bring me a “I don’t give a damn attitude” so I do not despair as I wait for my inevitable oblivion.
Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo (I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care)