You have been quite a tricky one to figure out. You have been both a friend and an enemy. In my personal quest to make meaning in my life, I realize that I need to figure out how to navigate you and by doing so, stop fighting you. I just updated my iPhone and I noticed that Apple felt it was important to add seconds onto the timer function I often use. I guess hours and minutes were not enough, suddenly, seconds mattered. What is our society coming to? Even more reason to develop a more respectful and sustainable relationship with you.
My friend Tammy mentioned you over the summer, as she, who has been battling with you for decades, decided to finally find a way to live with you, peacefully. As she proclaimed that she was no longer a slave to you, would no longer feel your squeeze, and refused to be bullied by you, I was excited for her, but pondered if I too, had as difficult a relationship with you as she had. I immediately thought, “nah….” But as weeks went by and I continued to reflect, I don’t remember exactly when it hit me, but I woke up one day and thought, “Oh no…it’s true. I hate you.” Thus started my own journey of understanding your role in my life – how you provide for me, punish and manipulate me. And that perhaps, I am not alone in this feeling. That you do this to all of us. Or said another way, we allow you to.
At any given moment, I feel like I don’t have enough of you, Time. Though I have the same amount of time that every other person has, 24 hours just doesn’t seem like enough. I am constantly trying to find the 25th hour in the day. Because I tell myself that I would be happier if I just had that one more hour to get X done. Funny enough, whatever X is, it never seems to be work related. Although there isn’t as much time in my schedule for even those tasks, X is often more self-serving, like meditating more, slowing down and catching my breath, being mindful, or spending time with those I love.
As a society, we try to manipulate time by changing it (daylight savings), managing it (clocks, alarms, chimes), negotiating with it (“please give me one more day with my loved one before they pass”), and fighting the science behind it (Albert Einstein’s 1905 special relativity challenge.) Time has defined my success in life. I would write out long lists of what needed to get done in a day and I was only happy if I could get the ridiculous number of things on that list done. If I didn’t, then I considered myself a failure or “less than.” Was that the right way to judge myself? Well, perhaps not, but the entire western society that surrounded me sent messages that time was to be feared and would become my arbiter on judgment day.
“If you are killing time, it’s not murder. It’s suicide.” – Lou Holtz
The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you and I are pilots of our lives.
I have control – you have control. But do I choose to take control? Not always. The control I sometimes seek is to go back in life. Not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice. What it felt like to be wrapped in my mother’s arms when I came out of the cold Atlantic Ocean after swallowing what felt like a gallon of salt water, what it felt like to hold my father’s arthritic hands, knowing that by being held, his pain was relieved, or what it felt like watching a live concert where I knew every word to every song as did everyone around me and so was not embarrassed to scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs. Those moments. But you can’t, they are gone. You have to make new ones. Sometimes, there is no next time, no second, third, or fourth chances, no pause button or time out. Sometimes it’s just now or never. Then what?
Humans seem to freeze when they face a “now time.” We so desperately want “time” and then, when time is given to us or a moment is offered up to take action, we freeze, unable to grab the opportunity and act.
“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.”
Kevin Ngo’s quote reminds us that we are in some way in control of you time, but not so much how fast or slow we go, but how we use you. How much of my life has been spent trying to beat you, Time?
I struggle to make the most of you, Time, yet I find myself in a constant battle with you. You never seem to give back all that you take from me. I fall prey to your time vampires, you know those time-sucking people, projects, and tasks that take precious time away from your day, usually unexpectedly. You parade around every morning, teasing me, making me think that a totally unscheduled day will remain so, but there is always something that you throw in that takes you away from me. An unexpected emergency, call, or “client must have” that takes away precious hours of my day. So, I schedule myself to the minute, because when I schedule, then there isn’t time for time vampires. I use my schedule as a stake that I can throw at time vampires. And it works, most of the time. But occasionally, I throw the schedule stake and it bounces off. And suddenly, I have both a full schedule and a time vampire to deal with. No wonder I am exhausted. But I refuse to fall on your stake any longer.
Part of making meaning in my life means bringing back control over my schedule. And although as a Professional Certified Coach, I make meaning in my life every day I am working, I crave more meaning making. And that will take reflection. And time to do that reflection. And I’m a hypocrite if I tell others the #1 priority in their lives is their own self-reflection when I can’t seem to find the “time” to do it myself. I am reminded that if I don’t have time for what matters, I need to stop doing things that don’t.
It’s time to make meaning through working with time, instead of against it.
But I also need to remember, that sometimes, time needs, well, time.
So, I’ll also be patient.