Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Time In A Bottle

As a culture we here in the US are a wee bit obsessed with time. We talk about it all the time a lot. See what I just did there? My first instinct was to use a "time phrase."

What are some of the ways we talk about time:
  • I don't have enough time.
  • That will take too much time
  • Time well spent
  • Time's up!
  • All the time
  • Is it time to go home yet?
  • Take your time
  • Time flies
  • Most wonderful time of the year
  • Having a good time
  • Big-time
  • Time's a-wastin'
  • It's about time!
  • Next time
  • Been a long time coming
  • Pass the time

Even our favorite sporting events are centered around time. Football, hockey, basketball, and soccer all have a clock. And while it's true that our National Pastime, Baseball, is a clock-less sport, interest in baseball has been eclipsed by football viewing, as evidenced by the record numbers of viewers for last week's Super Bowl XLV.

Have we lost our ability to savor moments and events like a long baseball game? And what about the double-header. Anyone been to TWO major league baseball games in the same day lately? Not likely. Who has the time to give up an entire day to enjoy the sunshine, a cold beverage, a few hot dogs, and some time spent with friends or loved ones? That is unthinkable for most of us. There's so much to do! 

And yet, we can't make more time. We only get what there is. Yes, it does vary by a few minutes over the years (thus leading to leap years) but overall, we get 525,600 minutes each year to live our lives (if you've seen the musical Rent you already knew that :-) )

I had my first revelation about time in college. Like other student I was perpetually rushing around and cramming in too much studying/work/classes/partying into each day. But one night I sat reading near a group of students studying together and overheard a guy said that he needed "another hour in the day."  It struck me then, like a bolt of lightening a whisper from God, that we don't NEED more time in the day.  If we needed more time in the day He would have given us more. What we need to do is use the time we have been given in the best way possible. And be grateful for those 24 hours and the fact that more is not expected of us than what we can accomplish in them.

My second revelation about time came about 10 years ago. I was dating a guy and he had some friends visiting Chicago, where we both lived, from out of town. The plan was to spend the weekend with them site-seeing and dining and just having fun. That Saturday morning I didn't put on my watch because I wasn't the one leading the itinerary. And I wasn't the driver. I just had to enjoy the days and go when everyone decided it was time to move on to the next activity. And you know what... it was LIBERATING! I didn't worry about the time. If lunch took 2 hours it didn't matter, because there was no where else to be but where we were and no one else to be with but those sitting next to us. 

That was in 2000. I never put my watch back on. Six years ago Mr. Brown gave me a beautiful watch as a birthday present. I love it, I really do. I tried to wear it. That lasted about a week. Sadly (because he put so much thought into picking it out) it sits in my jewelry drawer untouched with dead batteries. I don't wear it for two reasons:
1. I have a clock available to me and nearly every minute of the day. There's one on my computer, in my car, on my cell phone, in the office at work, on the walls at home, on my stove, on my microwave and next to my bed. I don't need any more!.
2. As much as I use all those clocks, I don't like the symbolism of actually wearing a time-piece on my person. For me, it feels a bit like an anchor. I feel compelled to check it and let it dictate my time. And I want to be able to savor moments instead of looking ahead to what's next and making sure I'm on schedule.

All this is not to say that I don't keep a calendar or a schedule. I certainly do. But when life permits, I thoroughly enjoy ignoring the clocks.

So, the next time you feel like there isn't enough time to get organized, remember that organizing isn't about time. It's about life. Being able to enjoy each moment because you aren't stressed over what you should be doing is the goal. And one great way to achieve that is to live in such a way that your stuff doesn't consume your time - the people who matter to you do.

There are a lot of organizers out there who will promise to help you "get organized in a day/weekend/week/month/year."  But in my opinion, organized isn't something you "get" in a set amount of time - it's a way to live from one moment to the next.

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