Lately I have been feeling short on time and long on obligations. There’s so much I want to accomplish but never the time to complete a task. I am pulled from work obligations, to personal plans and goals, and before I know it another day, another week, another month is gone. With so much calling for my attention it feels like I am always missing something. When that happens I try to remember that I am showing up for the things that are truly important. I am there for family time, for important events, and for the celebrations that make life more beautiful.
I recently sent a friend a pair of sandals. A long time ago I was a new mother in a new home and she was a new friend. We were not close but she offered to come take photos of the baby and I accepted. Short on both time and support I was grateful she came. This friend was an absolute dream and her visit solidified a budding connection. For the first time I felt fully embraced in my new identity. I was simultaneously a friend, a woman, and a mother. I wasn’t just one or the other, I was all of the above. As I was learning to be all three at once this friend gave me the space and time to be exactly who I was and who I was becoming in the same moment. I felt whole with her.
As she was leaving we found that as we had been staging photos, our dog had devoured her shoes. He had simply destroyed them. She thought nothing of it and left, thanking me for hosting as I profusely apologized. Later, I remembered her kindness and her shoes and so, I sent her a pair.
She was surprised and delighted. This time around she herself has two new little ones and is wading in that uneven territory between a new stage of womanhood, family life and individual autonomy. She had completely forgotten her original pair of shoes and asked if I was a mindreader? I reminded her of her kindness so long ago, and we got to talking about time.
I shared that when I am attempting to conform or comply with the modern construct of time I feel perpetually late. As if I’m failing to uphold some sort of sacred bargain. Whereas if I follow my own rhythm and natural timing it seems I am always showing up at exactly the right moment. I am not rushed and I am arriving just when needed.
She shared her own perspective. “You followed your impulses to that moment and, like magic, you made something manifest for me at the precise moment when it was needed in my life. If you ignore time and follow your inner voice instead, you are able to have perfect timing for everything you do in life (minus the boring things like getting to work on time of course).” I rebel against the modern construct of time as something to conform to or obey. Following my own timing I am perfectly settled. When I attempt to follow the guidelines of time others set, I am often late and discombobulated.
Time becomes something I am guilty of rather than something I use wisely. And maybe that’s the conflict I am feeling around the concept of lateness. It is both a tool of control and something we mutually agree to conform to in a society. I recognize that time and timing are different things but do they need to be? Is it possible that we could exist in a timeless environment where we follow not the regimented hours of production and capitalism but instead trusted ourselves and each other to arrive when the time is right for each of us? For train stations and busses this idea is impractical and maybe it only works for some of us. Still the idea of living free of time is invigorating.
Perhaps the issue isn’t time so much as the value we place upon it. We treat timeliness and tardiness as personal failing. From a young age we learn that it is inconsiderate to be late. And perhaps it is, if you consider time spent waiting or alone wasted. Still, it could also be that we are simply arriving at the exact right time for us. It could be that by honoring our sacred rhythms we connect more deeply to ourselves and our natural interests and inclinations. That our inclinations save us from spending time on those obligations that we instinctively know are not for us. We may arrive a decade late but it is just the right time. Timelines are for strangers and work associates. Time is not the business of creativity, connection, or communing with our deeper longings, innermost knowledge, and truest friends.