Once upon a time I tried to be the boss of time.
I was 38, fresh from a breakup and broken hearted. I was at a coffee shop, sitting side-by-side on a well-worn sofa with a cranky Buddhist friend. Weepy and inconsolable, my energy roved manically inside my body. The Buddhist listened, I whimpered then looked at her, tapped my watch and announced:
“I have to get over this.”
I said this as if I were the Mad Hatter late for an important date. I still remember this moment, how I felt like this heartbreak was something I needed to get out in front of so I could get on with things (finding someone new, falling in love, partnering up.) I was already behind in the coupling game; I didn’t want to fall MORE behind goddammit!
My cranky Buddhist friend looked directly into my eyes, her face a wrinkle-less expanse of calm and peace, and said:
“You have all the time in the world.”
Except it sounded more like:
“You have allllll the tiiiimmmme in the wooooorld.”
It landed like a meditative chant in my body. Like the truth. I took a big breath and let my rib cage relax and settle in to the sofa. I didn’t have to hurry anything along. What a relief.
(As if I could tell my heart what to do! But I still try on occasion.)
I recently shared this story with a friend after a coaching conversation. It was a conversation around a common twenty-first century challenge: How life gets condensed into a tube of stress because there’s not enough time to do everything. How do we find our creative energy and connect deeply to people when we’re hyperventilating our way through appointments, meetings, decisions, commitments, [fill in yours here].
It’s not fun to live with your chin at the water line; or at pant mode, or feeling like you’re always falling short.
What if, even for one day, you lived as if you had all the time in the world?
What if you had enough time?
What if there is plenty of time?
What if you let things fall through the crack and trusted that the important things would get tended to. Let your family know, let your friends know, invite them in on this experiment with you.
What if you Marie Kondo-ized your approached to Time? Look at your calendar as a closet filled with clothes. Get in there and do some purging, some rearranging, organizing, joy-scaping: what still fits, what do you like, what works, what’s in fashion, what can you give away?
And it could be doing nothing other than repeating a chant about how you have alllll the tiiiiimmmme in the wooooorld and see where this takes you.
Here are a couple of good quotes from productivity writer Laura Vanderkam, from this recent TED talk, How to Gain Control of Your Free Time:
“You build the life you want and then time saves itself.”
“Time will stretch to what we choose to put in it.”
P.S. If you make any discoveries or breakthroughs—or have any suggestions/advice or stories about how you’ve made friends with Time, I’d love to hear about them. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!