If you’re anything like me, you’re probably sprinting through your week, hopping from task to task and commitment to commitment, crossing your fingers that you’ll get them done in the nick of time, relying on your techno-gadgets to buy you a few extra minutes (replying to emails in the airport or sending texts from the car), searching for meaning in those few extra minutes you’ve found but putting it off because you’re too busy and have a block of time next week for soul searching, reading blogs, connecting with other humans and animals when you can, trying to be a better person, untangling the mystery of life, going to the grocery store, getting food on the table, walking the dog, desperately looking forward to those few precious moments when you might be able to breathe deeply in the midst of it all, and then getting ready to take it all on again next week.
Most of us speed through our days in a dull haze of stress. I feel stressed that there’s no way I can get everything done. I feel stressed that the pile of unread books by the bed is getting taller and taller. I feel stressed that I want to learn so much and have so little time. I feel stressed that my bank account balance isn’t as high as it should be. I feel stressed that I missed my yoga class. I feel stressed that I feel stressed. It’s a terrible cycle.
So, how can we extricate ourselves from the great tide of our own expectations and to-do’s? For me, it’s a matter of shifting my perception of time. From our earliest years, we’re taught that everything important is scarce. If time is limited, it follows that we must cram as much into each moment as possible to ensure that we get the most out of life and that we’re as productive as possible. This view ensures that I approach my life and time with a feeling of stress and limitation.
But what if I assume that time is not scarce? What if I shift my perspective and assume that I have as much time as I need? In fact, what if I assume that nothing that I truly need is scarce, and that everything I need will appear at the appointed time? What if I assume that if I listen, I’ll be guided to what is truly significant and important for me? What if instead of spending time guarding my pile of amassed “stuff,” I focus on openness and trust in the abundance of life? What if I live within the mystery of the universe instead of constantly trying to solve it?
This approach is the opposite of anything our culture teaches us. More speed. More productivity. More money. More stuff. These are the things our society values. But we don’t have to get stuck within the “Mentality of More.” Instead, we can step outside of that and smell the flowers. Literally. When was the last time you smelled the wildflowers on the side of the road? If you’re not worried about getting from point A to point B as fast as possible, then you might just stop when you notice the delicate beauty of a field of wildflowers. And you might be guided to write a poem about those brightly colored blooms waving in the summer breeze. And who knows, maybe that poem will catch the eye of a publisher, you’ll rocket to fame, and then you’ll be asked to become the Poet Laureate. Of course, in your infinite and enlightened wisdom, you’ll turn down the job because you have too many wildflowers to smell and poems to write.
So, just take this as a reminder to step outside of your normal way of thinking once in a while, especially when it relates to time. It’ll expand your reality, and it’s kind of fun. Even if you practice it just a few times a week, I bet you’ll notice a difference in the way you approach your days. I’ve been trying this lately, and it’s feels like a much more peaceful way to exist. Yes, there are still to-do lists and growing piles of books to read and people to see, but my thoughts about them aren’t stressful. When I’m in this place, I don’t feel the need to jump from one thing to the next in a frenzied attempt to “do it all.” I pick one thing and do it well. And this frees my mind to be in a place of peace, which inevitably leads to more productive, positive, and peaceful thoughts. This is a cycle I don’t mind repeating.
I’d love to hear your take on time. Does this approach work for you?
Clock Photo from Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Wild Flower Photo from Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net