It’s About Time

Marching on in the parade of days is today’s icon: time.  Ever seen George Carlin’s stand-up routine “Does the time bother you?” from 1978?  He goes into his typical absurdity rant about time, and as usual he asks a pertinent question in an impertinent manner.  We get obsessed with time, we humans.  It’s a construct we invented to cause ourselves anxiety, it would seem.  Animals have no sense of time.  They have seasonal behavior, but they’re not checking their calendars or pocket watches to know when to do something.  We have this ability to conceptualize past, present, and future and make decisions about what to do when.  What are we doing with this ability?  How are we spending our time?

Coincidentally, Steve woke this morning to say that he had been dreaming that we were having a fight.  “About what?” I asked.  “Small fires,” he replied.  To Steve, “small fires” are the things that take up our time or distract us from the important things in life.  We have spent a lot of time discussing what we consider valuable and how we want to use the time we have.  I consider it a big part of a working relationship to have those conversations that clarify how you will spend time.  The trick is to have them in a way that doesn’t waste time.  “Where are we going to spend Christmas Eve?” could cause you to fall into a vortex of possibilities and consequences.  “What do I want to be doing at this time?” is a bit more specific.

For what do I make time?  On what am I willing to spend a lot of time?   When you ask yourself these questions, does a sense of obligation begin to settle on you?  Are there a lot of things you spend time on because you feel you have to, even though you don’t want to?  How much of that have you accepted unwillingly because it’s easier than making changes?

Years ago, I went to a workshop that focused on a book called “Unplug the Christmas Machine”.  My church sponsored this event because there were a lot of women in that affluent community that took on an incredible burden of expectations and effort around the holiday.   I would often be asked, “So, have you got everything ready for Christmas?”  This was a conversation opener that often segued into a litany of tasks and obligations that they hadn’t completed and a lament of how stressed they were and how little time there was.  It was a victim’s complaint.  It’s taken me years to realize that victimization is often a choice.  There is a way to live that includes deciding what you will and will not spend your life’s time doing.

Some things I will not spend time doing: watching TV.  (I don’t own one, I don’t want one.  I have plenty of things to look at and listen to that entertain me.)  Networking on Facebook.  (I already have e-mail and a blog, so this seems completely superfluous.  Apparently, I am now in the minority in this country.  Hurrah!)  Working in a cubicle 8 hours a day.  (Been there, done that, then lived without any employment for 11 months so far.  I prefer being unemployed.) Showering and putting on make-up every day.  (I shower a few times a week.  I wear make-up to the opera.  I still feel hygienic and pretty.)

I might spend time taking a TV apart. The insides are cool!

Some things I will spend time doing:  cooking and dining.  (The worst part about feeding a family of 6 when everyone is employed or a student full time is that no one has time to enjoy this necessary and basic part of being human.)  Washing dishes by hand.  (It’s reminds me of camping.)  Doing laundry.  (Going to the laundromat for 2 hours every 3 weeks actually takes less time than owning the machines and doing a load whenever I felt like it.)  Sleeping. (I have always been a napper and a morning person.  I go to bed by 10pm most nights.  Did that even in college.)

What I really want to spend time doing: being outside, hiking, camping, traveling.  Reading books and listening to music.  Writing.  Being aware.  Being present, especially when I’m face to face with another living being.  Learning and loving and being happy.

We don’t any of us know how much time we will have to be alive.  We all have the responsibility and the opportunity to decide how we will live in whatever time we have.  That’s an awesome gift.  Jim’s sister quoted Abe Lincoln at the memorial service we held: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.”  So maybe there’s no such thing as ‘time’, only ‘life’.

8 thoughts on “It’s About Time

  1. Networking on Facebook. (I already have e-mail and a blog, so this seems completely superfluous…

    Lurking on Facebook is way more fun than networking. With email, blogs & networks, you have to have something to say. I prefer to listen in on conversations, eavesdrop a bit here & there, and check out the things that appeal to people I like. I don’t like the layout of FB or the way they keep changing things around, so it took me a long time to warm up to the place. However, when I had a lot of time this summer, I started to pay more attention to what my friends were up to on FB. Now it is a pleasant habit that offers me entertainment, bits of new information, and a little organization to my social calendar.

    With friends like your offspring, I get pithy snippets of wacky, creative thoughtfulness that I am otherwise too remote to receive without special effort. It feels good to be included in their lives and to see how our relationship is not just a matter of common DNA but also one of shared perspectives. (Ok, maybe there is a gene for linguist llama humor.)

    Laundry & dishes are superfluous to me. Yes, they get done when they need to be done, but they don’t really inspire me in the “living, loving & being happy” realm. Making time for friends, giving attention to those who have something they want to say, means more to me. I am proud to know these people who are passionately living their lives, making statements, voicing opinions & sometimes just being silly. Seeing them on FB doesn’t preclude me spending time with them face to face, rather it makes me more drawn to those rare occasions when we can sit down together and have a real conversation. Good thing that I’m on FB, because that’s where I receive invitations to the social events that make those happen.

    I am in the 99%. Hurrah!

  2. “Lurking” & “eavesdropping” when you have nothing to say, receiving snippets without any special effort, and organizing a social calendar just doesn’t seem appealing to me. Maybe I’m going through an antisocial phase.

  3. there are lots of ways to connect with others. Not to enjoy FB doesn’t mean you are antisocial. It could mean that you crave society more. You might want more engagement out of each interaction and find snippets unsatisfying & superficial. FB allows me to surf the wave of my interconnectedness, while face time lets me dive in. If surfing doesn’t appeal to you, it’s no big deal. As long as you make the effort to dive in, you can get all the connectivity you want.

    If you are in such a self-reflective period that the company of dishes & laundry is more productive because it allows you to think, then that’s worthwhile too. I can see that you have a lot on your mind, and I’m glad you make the special effort to share it in more than snippets.

    With busy people like Ms. Galassiraptor, I feel lucky to get the snippets I do. You have the right to hold out for a phone call from her and can even go enjoy her cooking. I suspect you get more out of that than the dirty dishes left at the end of the meal.

    • Connectivity – that’s a key idea. I do want to connect to people; I also want to connect to myself, the earth, the tangible things in front of me. We have a smorgasbord of choices about connecting, and in a fluid world, there is a rippling dynamic as all these choices are made. I’m still learning how to open up to the whole without thinking something or someone is “better”.

  4. walking to work this morning, I reflected on our differences. You are the Lady Lion and you like to roar. I am content to lurk and hold off on my sting. There is a place in the light for you and in the shadows for me. When we switch positions, the way we go about it is going to look a lot different.

  5. If you don’t want to get stuck in assigning value to your choices, you might try doing the things you say you will not do and not doing the things you say you will, just for the heck of it.

  6. sometimes it’s a matter of context and time — I choose to do dishes now, I choose to check facebook now, I choose to get back to work….

  7. Pingback: Advent Day #14 – Time | scillagrace

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