Just five minutes…

Here is Charles Dickens, rejecting an invitation from a friend:
“‘It is only half an hour’ — ‘It is only an afternoon’ — ‘It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes — or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day …
Who ever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”

And here is my modern updating on refusing an invitation from the internet:
“‘It is only five minutes–I only want to see if someone has responded–I’m only checking the news’ — I say to myself over and over again; but I keep forgetting that it is impossible to command myself only to look at one webpage, or that the mere consciousness that the internet is there, waiting, can shadow a whole day.
…Who ever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if the world suspects me of not wanting to engage with it, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”

Only a half hour

“It’s only half-an-hour”—
“It’s only an afternoon”—
“It’s only an evening”,
people say to me over and over again;
but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes
to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes—
or that the mere consciousness of an engagement
will sometimes worry a whole day.”

Charles Dickens