Most of us want more money. All of us want more time.
We need to find time to be happy, time for ourselves, time for our families, time for romance, time to relax, time to play, time to sleep, more time to get all our work done. More time. That’s a tall order and one even the free leader of the world can’t get, because each and everyone of us get the same 24 hours in a day. What we really need it to feel a spaciousness of time, to feel less urgency, less push and pull. We need more moments to sink into and less we have to hurry past.We need more moments to sink into and less we have to hurry past.Click To Tweet
Is that even possible?
Yes, my friends, it is. And the answer isn’t more time management or better life hacks. It’s as simple and complex as mindfulness.
Let me share a story about how I learned this.
Finding Time with Mindfulness
As the checker deftly swept my kale, pomegranate, and lemons across her red laser line, a deep sense of peace unexpectedly settled between my bones. My joints. The points where I come together, which are often stiff and inflamed.
I am grateful for this food. I am grateful for this moment.
As if a sedative had suddenly taken effect, my whole body instantly relaxed, nearly slumping over. Tension I didn’t know I’d held in my neck disappeared, leaving my limbs loose and free. That’s the word: free. The corners of my lips slightly turned up, but the rest of my face, usually so animated with thought, softened. I noticed myself become slow and heavy, but I didn’t fret about being slow and heavy.
I had time. All the time in the world. All the time held in this single moment.
Time didn’t have me.
Last spring it occurred to me that I needed to change my relationship with time. Its metronome of clicks, ticks, and tocks interfered with the rhythm of my own heartbeat, overpowering it and taking over the baseline that guided my life. We were rarely in sync. My sense of time kept me from being late, but it also prevented me from being present. I found myself waiting on the sidelines of my own life, waiting for a chance to live, or being scuttled past the good points as if it wasn’t possible to sit down inside my happiness.I found myself waiting on the sidelines of my own life, waiting for a chance to live, or being scuttled past the good points as if it wasn't possible to sit down inside my happiness.Click To Tweet
Like trickle down corporate management, time yanked me out of moments I wanted to linger in, and in turn, I tugged my children’s arms, move along, we mustn’t be late, to keep them on track.
My youngest child, Jack (5), is particularly sensitive to time. When I thought about it, when I took a moment and really thought about it, almost all of his trouble come from being rushed, or more accurately, from me being too distracted by the pressure of time constraints to give him the full attention of the moment. He gets flustered and protests. And then he gets punished. But whenever I do manage to slow down (and make time stand still), our hearts meet and we effortlessly glide through life.
Jack is a natural-born foodie, finishing his meals long after everyone has cleared their plates and even washed the dishes. His lackadaisical eating often interrupts our family’s pace, leaving the rest of us waiting and impatient. We admonish him to hurry up. But sometimes, I gaze across the table at him and marvel at what a wonderful dinner guest he will be later in life. He’ll regale his friends with funny stories and witty asides. His hostess will adore the way he swirls his spoon in his dessert, taking only a smidge at time, savoring each morsel. Unless I ruin him first. Unless I succeed in whipping him into a time-obsessed neurotic like me.
I knew I needed outside help with this one.
What Zen & Quantum Mechanics Teach About Time
I became a student of zen and quantum mechanics. I read the masters of the former, and fumbled through the dummy books for the latter. The gist of what I gleaned from both subjects is that time is more complex than a timeline would suggest. Time is not a simple straight line. Theories of multiple dimensions abound. This jived with a long held belief of mine, an idea I formed in high school but was too insecure to express, that time need not be seen as linear. We can go deep, not just long. The idea of forever could mean to sink into a moment with a sense of timelessness, rather than trying to stretch it forward in perpetuity.
The checker finished swiping my groceries, so I swiped my card. Beep, beep, beep, beep, went my secret pass code. I looked up and smiled.
“What a wonderful day!” I gushed. “A great morning!”
The bagger’s face tried to politely agree, but it was clearly at odds with the truth of his feelings. He was in his early 20s, at work, at 8:15 on Sunday morning.
“Well,” I said, appreciating our vantage points. “Maybe it’s not wonderful to be at work so early, but I hope your day turns out well.”
The smile he returned was genuine.
I walked to my car with a precious cart full of food. I walked under a blue sky and a shining sun. Still in a daze, I took my time. I felt the heft of each bag as I lifted it. I noticed my skeleton contort to accommodate the imbalance. I turned the radio on and let music wash over me. I rolled down my window to let wind wrap around me. I stopped when it was my turn to stop and went when it was my turn to go. I didn’t think anything else about the other drivers. There was no tick tock chastising me, just my breath which I felt coming and going. I noticed the long stretch in between breaths, and how I always returned to silence.
I carried my peace up the stairs with my groceries. Time hadn’t disappeared. My thoughts bounced to the future for a second, to dinner when I would cook the kale, pomegranate, and lemons together and serve them to my favorite dinner guest. I would sit back and let him regale me with funny stories and witty asides. I would top our meal with pudding, slow down, and match my bites with his.
But that was later, and until then, I sank into forever.
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