I have this friend…
And this friend set up a series of tasks to be done in a specific amount of time. We all do this, right? That’s probably how you spent your day. Morning alarm clocks ring and the battle begins with a slap of the Snooze button. Racing to meet due dates, deadlines, and school schedules, we “block out” time, “tackle” to-do lists and “rush” through traffic. Sounds like a football game. We complain there’s never enough of it, chasing minutes rather than savoring moments as if the only measure of time is what can be accomplished between sunrise and sundown. Time has never changed… you have.
Remember when you were young and summer break was so exciting? Sleeping in, sleepovers and sleep-away camps sound divine in early June, but come September the summer had lasted long enough. You got bored. The natural rhythm of seasonal time brings us full circle; from the restless excitement of the final school bell to the excited entrance into the next grade—taller, tanner and ready for the next adventure. Why don’t we feel that anymore? Because we’ve got this time thing all wrong.
The measure of time is a natural cycle of days, nights and seasons in continuum. We are fooling ourselves that it can be managed, bottled, blocked or wasted; it can only be perceived as having value or as the enemy, but in its essence it just is. And it’s all we have.
All this said, I do find that my life is more fluid and enjoyable when I set up time to focus on any given task—time blocking is one word for it. When I allow myself to be fully engaged in a single activity— property searches, phone calls, exercise, writing and even paying bills— I feel and perform better when I give up the notion that I’m in control of time. Living with sensory integration disorder, I’ve learned that the race with time is one I’ll never win; dust and laundry prove my point. It’s easier for me to choose how to engage with it and to give myself the gift of focus. In a multi-tasking paradigm, I never get things done. In engagement it flows and flies, making the most mundane… joyful.
So my friend… Overwhelmed and over-scheduled, stretched to the bursting point. Setting aside weekends and evenings to catch up wasn’t working and the desire for life/work balance had become more stressful rather than reducing it. There was no room to move forward with so much on the plate. “I’ve planted some poppy seeds in an egg crate, set them in the sun, and when the seeds have sprouted and the plants are robust, I’ll have completed what is weighing me down”.
What a wonderful thing, I thought; to give oneself the time it takes nature to make manifest what is possible and mirror a span in time. Last time I checked in the reply was, “cultivating poppies”, an image I adore as I move through my own sense of task and time. Today there was a rainstorm, our sunny skies turned grey and the sweaters came out again. Soon we’ll be wishing it weren’t so hot. Both are needed to cultivate your poppies.