“I don’t have time to…”
What does that mean?
I hear that often – in almost every conversation. And I find I say/think it often as well. I’ve been thinking about this statement – “I don’t have time.” – more lately because it is the one thing that comes up in every health assessment that I do with others. Maybe it is because we are stuck in the linear measurement of time. The measurement of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years – because that is how we mark our days. Yesterday, I felt I did not have time to do what I wanted to do – I was focused on the number of hours I had and the dates when things were due. The anxiety and stress I began feeling ensured that I did not get to do much of anything. I experienced time differently because of what I was feeling. It made me think that when we say “I do not have time to…” that maybe we are referring to our experience of time – how we feel and not the actual 24 hour cycle…because if we think about it not all hours are the same to us in a 24 hour cycle. We feel different at different times because of different things.
The gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish hours – confound him, too,
Who in this place setup a sun-dial,
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small pieces —-Plautus
Speed and flow. When the speed – the tempo – increases we feel stress and when the flow is interrupted we feel stress. When we feel stress we increase the speed of how we experience time and interrupt the flow more often. I think we are all looking for uninterrupted flow that matches our own speed. This past summer, I decided to figure out what my speed really was because I thought maybe the “right” way and time to do things was not really right for me. I did this because the rhythm of each day did not feel good – I felt I was trying to catch up or was off the groove. How could I experience my life more fully in the present and not feel stressed and anxious? I know how we live and experience our lives has a direct impact on our sense of wellbeing. So what is beyond productivity and efficiency? How do I experience more joy, beauty…and fun? So like most things in life – it has been a process and I am learning something all the time about time and our approach and why it is the way it is. One thing I realized while paying attention to my own rhythm was that there was more than speed and flow to my experience of time. There was also the energy I brought to my work, play, relationships, etc. Those were categories where I either I operated from fear or stress OR from passion, joy and love. So I realized that my rhythm plus how I felt about something affected my experience. For example, if I saw something as work – there was no way I could feel anything fun or positive about it and that time. Even if I actually liked what I was doing for work. Categorizing it that way changed me and what I brought to it. So I began looking at my attitude and seeing what I could shift…and for the things that I could not reminded myself that it was not permanent. It is not easy and is a constant process but it has helped me see.
…..”In such a world, experience was always lit by spirit; the mind was not a closed compartment ‘processing’ its own private impressions, the mind always had at least one window facing the eternal. Through this window wonder and beauty could shine in on a life and illuminate the quiet corners where mystery might be glimpsed. A person’s nature was revealed in experience; it was also the place where gifts arrived from the divine. Naturally, experience was one’s own and not the experiences of someone else. However, it was understood as much more than the private product and property of an individual. Expressed in another way, there was a sense that the individual life was deeply woven in the the lives of others and the life of nature. The individual was not an isolated labourer desperately striving to garner a quota of significance from the world.” – John O’Donohue, Beauty
And ultimately that is what it is all about – our connections, our relationships with everyone (including ourselves) and everything is what ultimately affects our health and wellbeing more than anything else. By looking at my speed, flow, energy – even if I cannot change anything I have started seeing more about my life and time. (“Your time is your life”-Marie Forleo) and when the speed, flow and energy were more my own, more natural I felt connected…and I felt better. Not just my mood but also physically – things inside my body worked better.
“There is such a constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are. You have no time to give yourself the present experience. When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo, everything becomes thin. Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart.” John O’Donohue, Beauty
gerber daisy petals falling from the sky in a sunlit stream
I paint and it is about movement and change. When I engage with my own painting – looking into it the flow of the colors moving I experience going deeper and slower as opposed feeling like I am skimming…skipping past – as happens to me with moving digital images. I can’t catch up. But I try to. And that is when I lose my own rhythm. So when I say “I don’t have time to…” it is now a cue for me to see whether or not I am off my speed.