I have finally stopped fighting time. Not age, exactly, I think the hope in a jar will be around for some time yet. But I am tired of manipulating time. Trying to fit all the things into a tiny space and being surprised when it leaks.
Time does not bend in the ways I want it to. Things take a certain amount of time and they do not contract just because my time frame is short. And yet I try to push everything into small pockets of time and when those pockets explode at the seams they make me feel rushed and stressed. Confused as to why I couldn’t make it work. Busy. Busy. Busy.
Time is finite. In so many ways more valuable then money. Yet we manage it differently from money. We don’t value it in the same way – our own or other people’s. I would never ask a $100 from a friend. If I had to, I would be embarrassed and awkward. I’d promise it back within days. I’d feel terrible. Yet I ask and am asked to give my time away regularly. And I do both without much thought or complaint. The Dalai Lama’s famous quote about what surprises him most about humanity is telling:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
I don’t believe that money and time can be directly equated to each other. Our perception of money and time are too different. By being caught up in the finite nature of time, we can become stressed – vowing to wring value out of every second. Then by doing so we miss the beautifully slow times that are vital for creativity and nourishment. The newborn days of my babies were my absolute favourites. I know that many people don’t feel that way. But the sleepy, other-worldliness of it all, the long stretching hours of nothing and everything were so wonderful to me. I may have donned the rose-coloured glasses of retrospect.
So I don’t think we should necessarily chase time, striving to make it all count or be miserly with spending it. I don’t think that leads to a life well-lived.
However some of the attitudes we apply to money, should equally apply to time. Valuing it for one thing. Respecting each other’s.
Other things too. I feel comfortable with a buffer of funds. We are careful with our money and cashflow. Yet my time is spent hand to mouth, none of it saved or reserved. I know I should be creating white space, but I have tendency to fill every second, every cranny. Without a great deal of thought or respect for time itself.
I have far-off dreams that I’d like realised. That book I keep talking about for one. A few other projects. Dreaming won’t do it. Time is the only currency we have to spend in order to get things done. In that way, I know I should budget it towards the things I want to achieve. Yet there is always something more immediate tugging at my attention. I would save money towards a holiday or an expensive treat. Yet I don’t budget my time in the same way.
When I look back on my fondest memories, they aren’t of using time in a particularly valuable way in a monetary sense. Yet they are the things I treasure most. The aforementioned time with my boys as newborns. Lazy family days on the beach. Travelling as a young adult. Stretches of time lost in creative pursuit, writing or sewing. Long and interesting conversations with intelligent and challenging people. They are not the things that fill a to do list, but they are balm to soul.
I’m going to be calmer about time. About letting it go and not over-stuffing it. Just seeing five minutes as five minutes rather than a chance to get three things done. That over-stuffing leads to over-spill and I’m suddenly late to meet a friend. And in doing so, I have not shown her time respect or value.
So I have decided to be more realistic of both my time, and others. As pragmatic about it as I am the funds in my bank account.
What is your attitude towards time?
Is it similar to how you manage money?