It's About Time (Revised November 2021)

How many times have we promised ourselves that we’re going to do something, to start something or maybe even to finish something we started a while ago and then…….for some reason we never seem to get around to it.  Something gets in the way, the busyness, distractions, procrastination – all underpinned by that feeling of not having enough time.

Which is nonsense. We have the time we have and we make choices about how we use it. What if we thought about time in the way we think about money – how much importance we place on looking after our finances, to not squander it, to carefully plan how we will use it. Of course we can sometimes waste cash but I think generally we value money much more than we do time, given how cavalier we can be with our hours, minutes and seconds. Apparently it was Ben Franklin who said time is money but it’s not. It’s so much more important.

It’s no surprise that as we get older we think about time differently, perhaps appreciate and value it more. That invincibility of youth where we either think we are immortal or adopt the ‘live fast die young’ mentality (two sides of the same coin?) is replaced by a more considered and appreciative respect for living. The older I get the more I yearn to just slow down. Finding balance and a sense of peace. To be rather than to always do. This yearning has made me more aware of just how fast things are, how hectic and instant. ‘The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry’ said Brooks, the old con, released after a lifetime in jail in one of my favourite movies, the Shawshank Redemption. He was right. We see it everywhere we look and, although there are huge benefits in the progress we have made, there is also a cost.

A few years ago I was driving to work and I passed a guy driving in the opposite direction – he wash brushing his teeth as he drove. I saw this guy a few times after this (maybe I started looking out for him?) and he did it a few times. What struck me about this was the thought; ‘how busy is the guy that he doesn’t have the time to brush his teeth at home before he leaves in the morning?’ Now maybe I’ve got it wrong – maybe he was being efficient, using his drive to work as an opportunity to do other stuff – multi-tasking we call it.

That is when I got interested in this whole fast-paced, hectic, overburdened way of living – and of finding ways to slow it down a bit, to bring some much-needed balance, to just rest.

I’m also interested in wellbeing – my own and others. Physical, emotional, spiritual. As far as I can see they are all connected and inter-dependent and need the time and the space to be considered, to be nurtured. That ‘cost’ I mentioned earlier maybe in terms of our health, our relationships, our sense of purpose.

The psychologist Erik Erikson developed a psychosocial model of 8 life stages – in stage 7 (from age 40-64) we ask “can I make my life count?”  And in stage 8 (age 64- death) we ask, “Is it ok to have been me?”  These are great questions to reflect on. How would you answer them – even if you have not yet reached 40, how would you think back on your life?

I’m not saying that every moment has to be profound and life-changing. It is beneficial to spend some of our time enjoying what we might think of as ‘frivolous’ things, just to unwind and relax. But have we lost the ability that we are born with to just ‘be’? Look at a small child, how easily they can get lost in something simple, being in that moment, not worrying about the past or the future.

Can we regain that? Let’s try.


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