I recently decided to break the tyranny of time. Although time is the one talent we share equally-24 hours each day—I frequently find myself with lists longer than seem practical.
The multiplicity of things I should do, people I must see, and things I have to buy have literally eroded the time I need to maintain my physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. But what can I do about it?
I have considered the alternatives and realized that time is closely tied to space. The more space we occupy, the more time we must invest.
Larger houses demand more time. Spacious gardens and lawns require additional hours of weeding, watering, and mowing. And if we choose to live a considerable distance from work, we must allow extra traveling time for our commute.
It is the same with holidays. In the past we took our meager changes of clothes and traveled for an hour or two to the nearest beach or mountain and spent our short vacation in leisurely pursuits.
Now, however, we pack a huge suitcase full of outfits and fly halfway around the world. We take days to catch up on jet lag and then frantically endeavor to do all the things we want to do before we cram our suitcases with souvenirs and dash for the airport. Then we endure the long flight home that leaves no time to recover before the alarm clock and the rhythm of routine takes over.
And that's life. It flashes by like a movie on a reel. How can we escape the merry-go-round and make more time? I am learning. It is not rri sy to develop new habit patterns.
A Better Way
I am finding that my day begins better if I wake up earlier so I can spend some time in meditation and eat a proper breakfast instead of gulping down an orange light on my way out the door.
Recently my neighbor's little daughter came into my kitchen while I was ironing my clothes. Looking up at me she inquired, "Have you finished your ironing?"
"No," I told her, "I'm just beginning."
"Then why are you doing the handkerchiefs? You should always do them last!" she admonished me.
How right she was! That five-year old reminded me to tackle the difficult or unpleasant tasks first and then to reward myself with the easy ones later! Placing daily tasks in priority also helps. We can still cat with unpolished silver, but the dishes and the clothes need washing. It is a trap to waste time on peripherals and then miss the important items.
Even the important matter of making decisions can be time consuming. My husband and I used to spend days discussing the pros and cons of a proposition until we discovered it was more productive to write on paper two lists, advantages and disadvantages. This method has also helped our marital harmony!
Time is too precious to waste on fruitless enterprises. I make a daily or weekly list of the items essential to achieve my aims, but I do not let that routine dominate my whole of life. There must be time to catch up!
Paul Gordon reminds us that "Time is a limited and valuable resource that must be allocated among competing objectives ..."
Young Man of Opportunity
I do not know why Time is traditionally depicted as an old man with a beard and scythe. Rather, I like to picture Time as a youthful being, with arms laden with opportunities.
Not only is time linked to space, but it must also be allied with money. Time is money. When we realize that we have only a limited supply of time and money, a budget for both becomes imperative.
One of the poems I best remember from my school days is by Ralph Hodgson:
"Time, you old gypsy man, Will you not stay?
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?
All things I'll give you
Will you be my guest ..."
But no one can delay the clock nor hasten it. We cannot buy time or even give it away. Time is for us to invest. And it can give us valuable returns.