Sunday, September 12, 2010
Filling up time.
"I don't have any time today."
"I will get to it when I have more time."
"I always thought there would be more time."
I hear a lot of talk about time. Not just when I work with folks that have truly run out of time, but everyday folks in my everyday life. It seems to me that no one feels that they really have enough. We are a nation bereft of time.
I know that we certainly have a lot more time saving gadgets now. More than our mother, father, grandparents and great-grandparents ever had. But it seems as though even with these things we run faster than ever and still never have any extra time to spare.
So what gives?
I read a quote yesterday that stated this:
"People talk about the reality of their life as if it is important. And we want you to understand, it's only the temporary indicator. If your gas gauge is on empty, do you go to the gas station and look at your gas gauge in horror? "How did this happen? Why, why, why did this happen to me?" Do you lay your head on the steering wheel and just sob? "Oh, look what it's come to. I'm finished. I've lived all of this life, and look where I am." Or do you just fill up?"
- Esther Abraham-Hicks
I liked this quote, because most of us feel depleted much of the time. We feel we waste our time on meaningless nonsense. We feel that time is slipping by fast and that we have no control. We feel our life is too busy, but still so empty in so many ways. We feel overwhelmed. Rushed. Exhausted.
But do we ever stop and think about time? Not how much we do or don't have left, because we will never know that, but how we actually spend the time we do have now.
I hear people say things like, "that is a waste of time." or "God, I wasted the whole day and got nothing done." Is it really a waste if you are enjoying yourself? And what is time for anyway? I am sure it is not there to simply use up on meaningless tasks, is it? I hope not. But I don't know for sure.
One thing I do know for sure, however, is that time truly does end. And I can share with you a bit about the end of time. I am familiar with that as I work frequently with the few that are actually there. Time is over. The cancer has spread. They can no longer get out of bed. They await death.
And what do they think about? They think about life. Their life. The time they spent living. Some curse that time. They may have spent way too much of it at a job they hated. They regret not spending more time with family and friends. They regret not seeing Europe. They regret not spending more time on the garden. They wish they had gone to the beach more. They regretted not wasting more time on things that brought them joy.
A patient recently asked me this, "How much time do you spend on joy? You see so much death, you must not want to waste a single day on things that do not bring you joy."
I thought about this. I do spend a lot of time on things that do not bring me joy. Like doing laundry or dishes, or grocery shopping. But those are the everyday tasks that must be done, and I know she wasn't talking about that.
What she was alluding to was this, do we take the time to stop and do things that bring us joy, that fill us up in a meaningful way. Do we make the time to go to that concert we read about, to go to the beach on a beautiful day, to go outside and ride bikes with our kids, to take that art class. Do we stop when we see something that piques our interest, or do we drive by hoping to get back when we have more time?
Or are we using our time to do the things we think we should be doing even though we dread them. Things like spending time with people we don't particularly like, or exercising because we worry about being too fat, or cleaning our homes and pulling weeds and fussing over things that really have no meaning what so ever but that we feel we must do for some odd reason. The fact is we waste a lot of time doing things that do not add value or joy to our lives. And for what gain?
The people I meet at the end of life are not always sad. Some have lived very long and fulfilled lives. They talk to me about their garden, how they went to the beach each summer, how they loved to paint. These people are not all retirees or empty nesters. Yesterday, I admitted a beautiful lady who was only 43. But she talked about her passions and she is still fulfilling those passions, even though she knows that death is a certainty.
"I am not giving up on my life. I will continue to do with it what I want and can until the very last breath is taken from me. And it will have to be taken from me. I choose to fill my life with what I want. I do not choose to leave this life empty."
And so there it is. We can fill our own lives. We can. We just have to choose to take the time to do it. Even as time runs out.
Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go.
~Henry Austin Dobson
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~Carl Sandburg
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. ~Louis Hector Berlioz