When You Don’t Have Time to Read Remember: Ta Eph’hemin

By Jewel Eliese

Do you have time to read?


Most people would say they don’t, especially when they are a busy Medora employee.


One reason is that Medora, our wonderful little city, is like a timer; it’s always counting down. We count down the days until the musical starts, to hear those sweet Burning Hill’s singer’s voices echoing over the buttes with the sun setting behind their dancing feet.

We wait for The Fourth of July when we’ve never seen so many people wandering through town wearing ice-cream on their shirts and smiles on their faces. The way the fireworks, as large as those at the capitol grounds in Bismarck, light up the small town.


Or for Labor Day weekend, when you’re exhausted but are working hard through that last busy push. And you feel like a new person, a better person after one of the best, and busiest summers of your life. One that went too fast.


This is what we are waiting for in this upcoming season, and it seems like there is never enough time.


Especially for something like reading a book.




We Don’t Have Time


“I never would have been President were it not for my experience in North Dakota.”

–President Theodore Roosevelt


The other day I sat with my two-year-old daughter to eat tacos at the Life Skill’s Center. Somehow a friend and I got on the topic of books, as tends to happen with me.


“I don’t have time to read,” they said.


I get it. 24% of Americans have not read a book or even opened one this year. That’s a higher percent than we tip the servers at the Badlands Pizzeria! It’s understandable as we are busier than we have ever been with work, family, and a side hustle; that doesn’t even include simply having fun. And in Medora, we don’t only exceed our boss’s expectations but our own. We do more here than we ever thought possible. Medora helps shape its employees into the people they were meant to be.


But I couldn’t help wondering, did this mean that I have a lot of time on my hands because I like to have my nose in a book?


I’m a mom. Kids, oh sweet little kids. They are worth it, but they do take much time, morning and night. Plus, I have my passion outside of work and kids. The website I built, books I’ve contributed to (including a bestseller), started a publication on Medium, and more.


I feel busy, too. We all are.


So how do I, or others much busier than me, find time to read?


We Can Make Time!


“Ta eph’hemin, ta ouk ta eph’hemin.”

I found this two-thousand-year-old stoic phrase in the book The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. It translates to, ‘What is up to us, what is not up to us.’


Sure, there are things out of our control.


We can’t help it when rain decides to pour down on the musical stage, or when there is a power shortage leaving staff without computers and employees trying to remember basic math with how to calculate prices plus tax. There are days when you truly don’t have time for anything except to crawl back into bed, exhausted but satisfied.


Yet, what we do with those free moments is a choice. It’s up to us. What do you do in those seconds or few hours?

  • Do you check your phone?
  • Go out (for those who are 21) and have a drink with friends?
  • Maybe relax with Netflix in your dorm or play Xbox?


In this case let me ask you something: if you have time to go for a walk, check your phone, or binge on your favorite show for a while, how come you don’t have time to read?

Because you choose to use your time for something else.


My husband is an excellent cook; he has a passion for food. He is the busiest person in our family yet on his days off or spare moments you can find him rolling sushi or reading about creative ideas for Theodore’s Dining room or the Badlands Pizzeria.


When I’m not chasing kids, simmering dinner or writing, I like to open a book. The TV isn’t on because I choose to give that up in order to read.


Both are valid options.


We all choose what we have time for. What those precious seconds in the countdown of Medora, of life, will go towards. The summer season is almost here. Soon the musical, restaurants and shops will open. Yet, too soon the summer will be over. People will go back home, and the chatter on the streets will grow quiet once more, almost like a ghost town.


So, what will you choose to do in this short time before the sand in the hourglass fills up?


Will you see the musical? Watch TV? Learn a language? Research more about the job you’re working at this summer?




Maybe you’re right, and you don’t have time to read a book. But you can make time.


It’s up to you. Ta eph’hemin.

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