Whenever someone asks me what I did over the weekend, I find that I have to recite my events backward. I start from Sunday and work my way to Friday, only remembering when I recall what happened most recently. Weird, I know. And though I always say that if you’re not a little weird you’re probably boring, I think this idiosyncratic little habit of mine has less to do with being odd, than being time-crunched.
In response to time, my life is usually on a grand-overload of activities per amount of actual availability. My husband and I both suffer from, “Don’t-Want-To-Miss-Out-On-Anything,” syndrome and neither of us have been properly treated for it. You’d think that we might have learned by now that running ourselves ragged isn’t exactly the best way to do life, but–we haven’t. It is embarrassing, actually, to admit that only yesterday, after waking up early to exercise, make lunches, shower, and lay out kid’s clothes before heading out, I had to bargain for three minutes for us to chat before I left. In his defense, he had also woken up early to shower, run the dog, check his email, and work on a report before he woke the kids to get them off to school. Ridiculous. Chaos, a schedule in and of itself before our day even began and we stood, not really looking at one another for our three minute catch up time, but scurrying about, grabbing and packing this or that as we tossed appointments and schedules at one another so we wouldn’t miss anything. Ironic, because I’m pretty sure that right then and there we were missing a great deal, especially the point.
If it were only the morning rush, things might be doable. If our days were less consumed and hurried and worried later on, anyone could cope … but they aren’t are they? There are times I’m hours into my day before I’ve actually physically sat down aside from a car ride, and don’t get me started there. I admit that I have totally been guilty of some random, time-saving activities in the car (for which my father repeatedly yells at me). I’ve done my hair, made appointments, done my make-up and even flossed (yes–don’t judge me, I’m a flosser). I thought maybe I was getting a little over-the-top until I saw a guy in a red pickup truck this week brushing his teeth!
And after the morning commute it’s more of the same. Whether at work or at school or at home it is the same rushing, running, crazy, (Who am I trying to keep up with?) breathless lifestyle. There are half-days that pass without having a minute to do basic human functions like drink, eat, sit or use the bathroom! And just when you think your day is done it really isn’t is it? Because even after the whole nine to five bit, we have the other parts of life. The soccer and ballet practice, appointments or grocery shopping run into the muddy paw prints I can’t let lie or the laundry that buzzed after having it on the “refresh-cycle” for the ninth time because I still couldn’t get to folding it.
Our lives are really, fairly exhausting. It’s no wonder God only gives us about a hundred years; at this rate I’ll be glad not to drop at 50! Though, I do comfort myself to know that I am not an exception, but a part of the rule. Most of my friends suffer from the same time-battling intensity as I do; I know this because of the wicked games of phone-tag I play with most of them, just to “catch up,” for a few minutes.
I like to think of myself as an honest person, but I think I would absolutely, without a doubt steal time if I could. Whether snatched or smuggled I’d start off small, a collection of extra minutes to store so as not to not be late, perhaps; it might be nice to pull a few moments out when the dog won’t come in or we are dealing with a tricky shoelace. And yet, I know that sooner or later minutes would not be enough. A few hours, a few days, maybe a week or a month here or there, and soon, even the, “extra” time I’d taken would seem insufficient to the amount of things I wanted to use it for. William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but use worst.” He is right. Because I’ve been gifted with twenty-four hours a day and seven days in a week and I cannot seem to use them well at all. I overuse and abuse each moment, stretching and pulling them taught until I’m the one that about snaps.
Recently, I was forced to be still for about ten hours on a plane. It is funny, because as I sat there idly, I was able to see a new movie called About Time, a new movie that addresses the very idea that “if” we were able to get more, how we could somehow make our lives count on a deeper level. While it may have started out quirky and funny, it ended with a fantastic message about cherishing what we’re given, instead of haunting ourselves with the phantom bits of time we long for.
In the end, we are all given more time than we deserve really. Although I don’t enjoy the aging reflection, I am blessed for each and every turn about the sun I’ve had. It’s just so easy to get caught up in the doing of life that I tend to forego the “living,” of it. But I’ll try. I’ll try to stop using phrases like: “In a minute,” “I’ll call you when I get time,” “Let’s talk for three minutes,” or, worst of all, “Maybe later.” We aren’t guaranteed “later,” but we do have now.
I’m going to leave you with something to think about (with all the extra time I know you set aside for thinking). Author Lauren Oliver said, “Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you – sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes … And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.”
In your life, where would you press pause? And if you know the moment, then why don’t you?