The tyranny of time

I once had to do an essay on time for a writing contest when I was in school.  While I was a good writer, it was not a strong subject for me and I bombed.  Ironically, I erased a good deal of what I had written and rewrote with little time left that was allotted to complete the essay.  I wrote until the last minute ticked away mercilessly, and then I was out of, that’s right, time.

Now I’m 45 and doing much better at a lot of things time related, like punctuality.  I used to be a good ten minutes late everywhere, more than that for social engagements.  I always felt harried and nervous.  There were other reasons for that too, but running behind definitely doesn’t help.  That’s not to say I’m never late, but I know how to avoid it.  I’ve developed a greater sense of urgency which kicks in before it’s too late to have any chance of getting ready and getting there on time.  So that’s being on time,  better.

Then there’s time management.  Let’s look at the everyday first.  There’s work. No choice how long you’re there.  And some people drive a good ways to their jobs.  I don’t.  I don’t know how people can drive an hour and a half or more each way, 5 days a week.  That’s crazy to me.  It’s too big a time investment.  I don’t want my life to be about work. I want time to put into things I want to do for personal enrichment, enjoyment, and to secure my future.  That last one refers to writing.  Of course, I seem to find all kinds of things to stall before writing, even housework.  It has to be done, but it can wait.

We measure time in hours and minutes through the daily grind, while months and years seem to slip by.  A couple of my new friends from church are older than me.  One just turned sixty and the other will be in the fall.  I commented to both of them how people always lament getting older even though they may seem young to someone else.  They both quickly responded that age is just a number.  As they are both active and don’t look or act their age, I think I should look at it that way too.  The thing is, I always focus on how much I thought I would have accomplished by a given age, and then I feel the passage of time like a weight.  I think, I’m forty-five and still haven’t completed anything significant with my writing.  I haven’t had a real meaningful relationship.  I haven’t traveled, haven’t done this, haven’t experienced that.  See the pattern?

I do try to look at things positively, to see what I have done.  It’s challenging for me because I’ve always been very hard on myself, but I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve grown as a person tremendously.  I conquered shyness, I’m more confident.  I went through health and career challenges.  I usually see the glass half full when it comes to other people or external situations, so I shall try to do that for myself.

I never got my bachelor’s degree becomes, I have an associate’s degree which I did while working and was the first in my family to get any kind of degree beyond high school.  I’m not a writer becomes, I’m in a much better job than any previous and have a regular schedule so I can plan my writing time. Forty-five goes from, too old to start on things I wish I’d done already to, a good age to take off running.  I’ve got so much more life experience now for writing material.  Robert Frost comes to mind as one of many whose careers started in their forties.

I guess the important thing is that you take the next step whenever you come to it, whether you come to it at the time you had planned or expected, or not.  If the way is blocked you make a new path.  Detours can delay us, but make us stronger and wiser on the other side.   Impatience just makes the extra time wasted.  And the last thing anyone should do in this fleeting life is waste time.

Whatever step you need, or want to take next in your life,  take it as soon as you can, even if it’s just a little baby step.  Maybe that’s all it’s possible to do right now, but the action will affirm your intent and grow into resolution.

I almost feel bad for giving this post the title I gave it, but it’s how I’ve felt many times over the years.  Of course, you can’t halt the march of time, or even slow it.  You can watch the torrent go by from the shore, making you dizzy, or you can jump in and swim with the current.

Seize the day! Seize the moment!