Time is Not a Problem – But You Might be Making it into One!

“ I am working on this project now, but perhaps I should be spending time with my children instead”.

“Would it really be worth my time to go and watch that movie?”

“I should really be doing something productive instead of sitting around wasting my time like this”

“This train journey is so long, we have to somehow find a way to kill time

“Maybe I should enrol in a seminar to learn to manage time more effectively”

“I needed some me-time so I took off on the weekend by myself”

“Oh I wasn’t doing anything much, I was just passing time with some friends”

“If I take a taxi instead of walking I could save time that way”

Do any of these statements sound familiar. What is time really, and what are the collective beliefs in our society about time? What have we been taught to believe about time when we were children? What are your personal beliefs about time? Let’s examine how some of these beliefs might be influencing the way you relate to time?

When we talk of spending time, or killing time, or passing time, or managing time, what have we made time into? Have we made time into an external entity or monster that needs to be controlled and conquered? When we are worried if something is going to be ‘worth our time’,  when we crave ‘me-time’, when we are anxious about not ‘wasting time’, and when we are on a constant lookout to ‘save time’, are we conceptualizing time as something that is a scarce resource (outside of ourselves) that needs to be milked and effectively utilized.

Have you ever been engaged in one activity but at the same time also had a voice in your head telling you that another activity would be a more ‘useful’ use of your time. Are you familiar with the voice that urges you to hurry through whatever you are doing so you can give more time to your next task. I am sure you also know the voice that reprimands you for ‘wasting time’, or the one that worries about how you will ‘pass your time’ in the future. Can you see how these voices either create guilt, shame, and feelings of ‘not good enough’, or feelings of fear, anxiety and foreboding. They are not particularly uplifting voices, and having them as the background chatter in our minds can be very draining. Overall, the feeling they create in us is either one of life being a battle (where we have to save, protect, and effectively manage time) or that of life being a drudgery (where we need to find ways to kill and pass time), or life being a continuous-form-report-card with a fail grade (telling us our time could be or should be put to better use elsewhere).  

I am only too familiar with a life that feels like a combination of a battle, a drudgery, and a report card with a failed grade. However, once in a while, the chatter of voices in my head subsides, and I experience a moment where I am not bothered about time. At such times my being bursts forth with the unbridled joy of simply being alive. I feel eager to play, to create, to write, to work, and to just do whatever I am doing. I feel supported and cherished by the universe to just be whoever I am being with no sense of wrongness or ‘not-good-enough-ness’. The past is no longer a series of mistakes to be corrected and the future is not a foreboding of anxiety and worry, and threat. Life simply just is.  

Time is not your enemy. No, she is not your school principal, or your mother, or your boss or your local priest, although if you pay close attentions to the admonitions related to time in your head you might detect their voices. Nor is time your slave, your servant, or a resource to be milked, though your management textbooks might sometimes portray her that way.

We have, as a society, given a lot of character and significance to a concept that science has not even been able to establish as an objective reality. The best explanation in science so far is that time is a subjective construct in our heads which we use to measure the distance between any two of our own intrinsic life experiences. Why have we created so much humdrum about time then. If we have to give time a name and face and character, at least let us give it one that fills our lives with ease.

What if I told you time is just a free bird on wings. She is the free bird who lives in your heart. She is not something or someone separate from you. She is not someone you need to free yourself from. She is something created by you and you can paint her in any colour or form you like. You can give her the role of being a non-judgemental cheerleader who will cheer you on through life. You can give her the role of a lover who will welcome you each moment with delight. You can give her the role of a playmate who will play and surprise you each moment.

My face for time article
Photo by Seema Swami

How about creating a different vocabulary with relation to time? Instead of killing time, what if we could play with time? Instead of spending time, what if we could lovingly gift our time? Instead of worrying about wasting time what if we could see time like the rest of nature where ‘waste’ does not even exist as a construct. Instead of saving time, what if we could savour time. Instead of passing time, what if we could make love with time?

 

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