I have a goal this summer. Actually, I have several, but the one that I keep thinking about this week is: Slow down.
I have a terrible habit of always checking the clock. I have a very rigid sense of time, and it’s started to feel more and more constricting. This is not the way I want to live. I’m constantly measuring how long it will take to do something or get somewhere. I’m calculating how much I can get done in a certain amount of time. I’m anxious when I don’t accomplish things in the amount of time I expected. I’m always running out of time.
Except I’m not. I mean, maybe, in the philosophical we’re all running out of time kind of way, I am, but I don’t necessarily want to live that way. I do want to live like time matters, because it’s true, we only get so much, but I don’t want to be so anxious about what time it is and whether or not I’m on schedule.
We went camping last weekend with friends. We were out of cell range within the park, so I kept my phone, a.k.a. my clock, turned off most of the time we were there. I had a general sense of what time it was most of the day, but it didn’t matter as much, and it was nice. There was no set schedule, just a general, it’s somewhere around lunchtime and we’re getting hungry, so why don’t we get some food going?
At night, we sat around the campfire, talking and sipping wine, making s’mores and watching the fire crackle and glow. Before we knew it, it was well past our normal bedtimes so we cleaned up, made a trip to the bathrooms, and headed into the tents. No hurry, no schedule.
When five o’clock rolls around each weekday, I’m ready for work to end, to come home. We have projects and plans and stuff to do most nights, so I hop in the car hoping for a quick ride. It’s not a quick ride. My evening commute is monstrous, taking me as least twice as long to get home as it takes me to arrive in the morning. Just about a full hour each night in the car, in traffic, on highways until I pull up to my house and sigh. It feels like wasted time.
If we have somewhere to be, I’ve probably already calculated how long I expect it will take to get ready so that we can in the car by 6:30 or 7:00 pm or whenever. Then I’m racing the clock or the GPS the whole way there. Every delay or traffic jam, slowing us down. I’m always so impatient to arrive, always keeping my eyes on the clock.
Our camping trip was about two-and-a-half hours away, but I focused on just being in the car with my husband that whole time. We wanted to arrive by dark so we could set up our tent in what remained of the sunlight, but as the minutes ticked by and I realized we probably weren’t going to make it, I kept reminding myself that it didn’t matter– that the drive itself didn’t have to be time ticking by but time to relax. It takes a lot of conscious effort for me to remind myself of that.
I don’t want to be so tied down to the schedule that I forget to relax. I don’t want to be afraid that my projects and plans are taking too much time, that the time I have isn’t enough. I don’t want to live my life in a state of anxiety, feeling like time is running out. Yes, I want to use my time wisely to accomplish things. I want be mindful of other people’s time and the things that need to run on a schedule. But I don’t want to be ruled by the clock when it’s unnecessary.
So that’s one of my goals this summer: stop checking the clock. Stop giving the clock so much say. Give things the amount of time they take. Don’t rush. Make room for a walk or a detour on the schedule. Let time pass, don’t run to keep up with it. Slow down.
What about you? Any goals this summer? How does time affect you?