Clock watching

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   “Time waits for no man.” “You can’t stop time.” “I have no time.” “What time is it?” And my favorite, from the Asatoma Invocation we chant at the beginning of asana class at the yoga studio I attend, “From time-bound consciousness to a timeless state of being.” How many times have you said or thought, “I can’t do that, I don’t have the time,” or “I can’t make the time,” or, “It takes too much time”?

   As a teacher, I have two calendars at all times running in my head. The Gregorian one we all use that begins in January and ends in December, and the school calendar, which always seems to take precedence, starting the work year in August, and ending it in May. The time off during the summer is usually spent catching up on projects that there didn’t seem to be enough time for during the school year, and other duties, such as doctor’s appointments. If there’s a little extra money, and time between other obligations, there might be a vacation or short trip out of town, which takes time to plan and to pack for, and making sure one returns in time for the next item on the to-do list.

   At school, my time is budgeted into blocks that hold my classes, and time to see monitor students, plan, grade papers, and all the other stuff that comes with the job. Oftentimes, there are meetings after school which take time that most of us would rather spend elsewhere. On Fridays, some teachers get together and discuss their time at school, how they plan to spend their time over the weekend, or to just kill some time with colleagues. Those of us who have several interests and obligations become masters at scheduling. Leaving just enough time to travel from one appointment to another, we abhor being late, since we equate it to stealing another’s precious time. However, if we run a few minutes late, it causes a domino effect, and we don’t have enough time to get it all in, and by the end of the day, feel worn out and frustrated that our time was not as well-spent as we had planned on our calendar.

   When it comes to doing anything in life, there are some who jump right in believing, “No time like the present,” or “If not now, then when?” And there are those who procrastinate, thinking, “Now is not a good time,” and then they end up with so many things to do that they revert back to, “I don’t have time!” For some, it is difficult to not fill every minute of every day. Yours truly struggles with this. Others, have all kinds of time and choose to “hang out” as time goes by. Sometimes all it takes is a little restructuring to find the time we need or want to devote that time to a hobby or project. I’ve heard that retirement affords all kinds of time, which is scary to some and rewarding to others.

  So what does all of this talk about time have to do with writing? I’m a firm believer that we make the time for things that are important. If a couple of friends invite us out for dinner, we usually don’t have any problem with putting off cleaning the house in exchange for a good time. When a friend or relative comes into town, we can often take a day from work or rearrange our schedules to make time to visit. And when time becomes small for those close to us, we start to evaluate what it all means, why we’re here, and if we’ve spent our time doing things that matter.

   You’ve probably read my blog on creativity and the importance of it in life. I struggle to find time to do what I’m pushed to do, which is putting words down on paper. Occasionally I procrastinate, but almost always, I comment, “I don’t have the time”. (I’ve partially solved that by carrying my notebook with me everywhere, and while I wait at the doctor’s office, for a friend to meet me for lunch, before yoga class, or when arriving 10 minutes early for tutoring, I write.) I hear the same litany from many others. “I can’t do that right now. I just don’t have the time.” When will you have the time? Never, if it doesn’t mean enough to you. So perhaps the better question is, how to make the time. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, and almost limitless ways to fill that time. Work, children, household chores, friends and relatives, holidays, hobbies, your favorite sports team. Creativity.

   One time management tool that works for many activities is scheduling the time on a calendar. I suggest you use the same strategy for creativity. Do you write? When can you mark it on your calendar? From 6-7 AM? How about from 9-10 PM? Paint? Okay, ten minutes to take out paints and canvas, but then think about lighting in the room. Is it better in the morning or evening? Sketching at Starbucks? When is it the busiest, when you’d have the most opportunity to catch humanity engaging in ritual? And how many of you, right now, are thinking, “I can’t do that. I don’t have the time.”? And you never will unless it is important to you. Which brings me to the opening chant.

   “From time-bound consciousness to a timeless state of being.” We are in that space of timelessness anytime we engage in something where we loose track of time. For me, the list is long. Teaching, spending time with my horses, practicing asana (yoga poses), meditation, attending a concert, having dinner with a friend, pleasure reading, watching storm clouds, swimming, cooking, and writing all bring me to the state where time falls away. It is just me and the experience. Athletes refer to it as “the zone”. We stop watching the clock, being time-bound, and are absorbed into the timeless state of being. We’ve all been there. We all know what we “do” when loose track of time. It sounds counter-intuitive, but to get to that timeless state of being, we often have to schedule time to do it.

   So, when will you put your creativity on your calendar? Never, if it’s not important to you. But that feeling of timelessness, of being “in the zone”, where we are absorbed in the experience, might be enough to set aside an hour to write or paint or knit or woodwork. And when you get to the point where you want more time to be timeless, and it becomes important, you’ll be amazed at all the time that will be available. Perhaps you’ll then have some insight as to why you’re here. To see what else I spend my time doing, check out my tweets on Twitter and my postings on my Facebook Author’s page. You can get to both through my web site, www.myjoyenterprises.com

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