"Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time' is to say 'I don't want to'."
– Lao Tzu
Two weeks ago, I set a reminder to write an article about TIME. HA!
As the first week whizzed by, I found myself running around, vibrating with the numerous tasks that had been suddenly added to my plate. I ‘ran out of time’ and felt unable to write. ‘Where does the time go’?
The original idea for this topic began with a conversation in which we were reflecting on the various relationships individuals have with time. It only makes sense, with regard to the diversity of humanity, and with time being ‘a construct’ based on the measurement of change, that there are many versions of time management ideals. With my time, I aspire to deepening my personal awareness of my perspective, my values, and how all that relates to those of others. So, today I will outline a few of my thoughts.
Consider a couple I know who have very different ideas. One of them grew up on a remote island; removed from flush toilets, electric power and other modern conveniences. Her life was devoid of schedules for work, school, team sports, or appointments…. Instead, her life bent around the sun and moon; the tides and the seasons. Her relationships and her survival depended upon a close connection with Nature.
Her husband, on the other hand, grew up in a typical Canadian suburb. He attended a school that gave out ‘late slips’, and he participated on hockey teams that benched tardy players.
Now, as parents, this couple has many discussions about time, wherein they must explore their values… what is important or what seems dysfunctional to each of them. Needless to say, their contrasting backgrounds can lead each of them to experiencing difficulties in seeing the other’s perspective.
It is so easy to judge… and to expect others to conform to our ideals. But, this approach isn’t the path forward to “a world that works for everyone”. The real work lies in learning to understand, and in making space for differences. We don’t have to be the same. In fact, that would be horrible! There is room for all perspectives, and we each have the opportunity to create a personal journey of balance and meaning, while bending and flexing to make room for divergence. This is the foundation for the beautiful mosaic of life.
Years ago, an elderly couple in our community demonstrated this, beautifully. The husband always arrived to The Centre for gatherings 15-20 minutes early, in time to socialize and settle in. His wife, in contrast, flew in by the seat of her pants, just in time to catch opening remarks. She embraced the thrill of ‘the last minute’. They always drove separately. 20 years later, they continue to share a rich and loving relationship by understanding that they both have different needs.
Is one way “right” and the other “wrong”? Nope! Never!! This couple’s choices are a testament to the idea that differing needs can coexist harmoniously.
Now, here I am, reflecting on time in the midst of the pulls of a hectic schedule. There is so much profound wisdom available to share on this topic, but I have been slammed with too much to do, and ‘so little time’.
However, when my balanced life gets the squeeze from unplanned outside forces, I actually have an opportunity to adjust. Some things fall away, while other priorities move front and centre. In such instances, I have the occasion to decide what is mine to do or not to do… whether I walk or run; whether I sleep for four hours or eight. In the end, it all gets done. (And, I have to laugh even at that thought, “All gets done?” Whatever does that even mean?)
A dear friend is dying. He is at peace with the journey, as am I. Our time here on this planet, in our bodies, has one truth everyone can agree upon: we all come from birth, and we all eventually die. Between those two poles, the spectrum of perspectives on life and time is as diverse as humanity itself. What is the ‘all’ that needs to get done before I transition out of this human body? Is it measured in years, in accomplishments, or in something else entirely?
Many people believe that “a good life” must be rooted in many years of youthful vigour, followed by a long, meaningful final chapter. But does “good” necessarily mean “young” and “long”? Some believe there is something after this life; that it is an ‘advanced’, easier place. If that is the case, then perhaps a short life here is better?
There are also those people who fear death; believing that life on this planet is all there is, after which, “Bang! Lights out, and it is all over”. Perhaps those people cling to this life as long as possible for that reason?
What is your take on this?
Who is ‘right’? I don’t know. How could I? Instead, I choose to let go, to come to terms with my own ideas, and I am open to change as I stay curious. I aspire to honour our differences. I desire to express grace and kindness when we don’t agree. And, I am determined to always learn something new to expand my present perspectives and views.
I have only one request of you: practice openness, kindness, and love, especially towards those close to you, when their views of life are not the same as yours.
As you honour those around you, you will find acceptance and understanding enriching your every interaction. This will be time ‘well spent’.
ACTIVITIES for TRANSFORMATION
Time Perception Journaling:
~ Journal daily on how you experience time each day throughout the week. (Were there moments when it seemed to fly by or drag on? How did your mood or activity influence your perception of time?)
~ How do you see time differently from others in your life, based on your discussions and observations? (Note cultural, generational, or personal differences in time management and perception).
~ Note how different life experiences can shape one's relationship with time.
'A Day in Their Shoes' Empathy Exercise:
~ Pair up with someone who has a markedly different lifestyle or schedule. For a day (or a significant part of a day), try to live according to the other's typical schedule and routine. (Perhaps include work schedule, leisure activities, family responsibilities, or even their habits related to punctuality and time management).
~ After the exercise, share your experiences and reflections: What did you find challenging? What surprised you? How did this exercise change your understanding of the other person's perspective on time and life?
Remember, there is no single 'right' way to perceive or use time.