Running out of time: an essay

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It’s my biggest fear, next to death. To run out of time. Because: To write all the stories. To love all the people. To make a difference. To win the prize. Because, dear heart: We all run out of time, ready or not. A vicious tug of war. Hope vs. despair. Yet the roller coaster of life—exciting and scary and often creaking and jarring—eventually grinds to a halt on its tracks. The Great Conductor, His voice booms: End of the ride! The shiny metal buckle, smooth and cold to the touch, releases its vice-like grip from across my hips with a flick of the wrist. My legs wobble as I push against the mechanical arm and stand. How I yearn for another lap around the track. But it’s here I discover: I didn’t run out of time. I ran into eternity. Accompanied by a lifetime of memories, of stories and books, adventures and dreams, that flourished. Well done, child, a still small voice whispers. Well done.

Image courtesy of PANPOTE at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Try it on for size: encountering contentment

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For years I’ve struggled with a fast-track mentality: I need to get this done now, go here then, achieve that by the time I’m X years old and the list goes on. I write about what feels like a race against the clock in “Doing life in the fast lane” and how while the first 50 years took their own sweet time, now the necessity to apply imaginary brakes in order to slow time… grips me with a palpable intensity. “There’s just not enough time,” becomes a familiar refrain. Yet I sense a shift, an infinitesimal settling, deep down, where my soul works out my purpose day in and day out—the feeling that maybe it’s okay if I sink back into my days, my hours, each moment. Go with it rather than fight against it, the ebb of time and its cyclical flow. A contentedness washes over me, as if I’m trying on this new season and it finally fits.

Are you a “fast-tracker” or go-with-the-flow type?

Photo courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How a kick-in-the-butt can change your life

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Kick-in-the-butt

 

Crazy bird, she was. Only flew when no one watched.
None could keep her. All failed to train her.
Funny name she had. Time.
~ Anonymous

 

My recent post, ‘Tick tock…,’ talks about time and our elusive grasp on it. I can actually define the catalyst—or kick in the butt—that snapped me out of my Rip Van Winkle state, the one where I slept away more than twice the amount of time as the fictional character. I call it BC and AC. Before I re-enrolled to complete my undergraduate degree, my life felt ‘tiny,’ unimaginative. Timid. After college (and also while attending classes for my Bachelor of Arts in Literature, Writing & Film), my world became vast, inspired. Daring. How differently my path might have unfolded had I attended college before middle age. Yet, I wouldn’t trade my experiences or the connections I built, the new tricks I learned and still do. The important thing is where I go from here: forward.

What’s your life’s catalyst?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Where does the time go?

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Where does the time go (2)
This past week I began an experiment that revolves around how time seems to go faster when we’re having fun (and the opposite when we’re not). Although I’ve only studied my hypothesis in the hot room during Bikram yoga, I believe it’s true anywhere. During one 90-minute practice, I had a hard time keeping my mind in the room. I spent a good deal of class lying on a beach, sometimes strolling along the coast to retrieve pretty shells. My thoughts also jumped from how uncomfortable I was, to which asanas I planned to skip, to my lack of remaining water. Class took forever! During the next practice, I focused on the instructor’s words, my breath, my body’s movements and my mantra as I bent and stretched to receive each posture’s benefits. Class was over: Bam! Same thing happened less than 12 hours later. When we fully invest in each moment, time doesn’t go faster; rather, we lose track of it.

When do you lose track of time?

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Wanting and doing are two different things

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ID-10098825The saying, “It’s not about having the time, it’s about making the time,” is not a new idea. As I focus on the concept of balance this year and what it means for my life as far as work, play, fitness, relationship with self and others, as well as the pursuit of my dreams, I’m reminded that if I want to do something, it takes more than desire; it requires deliberate planning. When I don’t set aside time to tackle the task at hand, something else is bound to be more appealing or easier or convenient. Just like I make a regular commitment to practice the yoga, which can fill up 2½ hours of my day including the commute, I must pencil in time for the other priorities in my life—whether it’s journaling, deepening my connections with family and friends or decluttering and decrapifying my home and my life (see https://miscellany14.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/the-40-bags-in-40-days-challenge/). If it’s important enough, I will make the time.

What will you make time for today?

[Image credit Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Healing a broken heart

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Healing a broken heart

[Image credit: fotographic 1980]

Time can heal a broken heart
but it can also break a waiting heart.
~ Unknown

The box thing (see Outside of the box) isn’t working so well. It’s just not in my nature to compartmentalize my feelings. In fact, I wear pretty much all my emotions on my sleeve. And now I’m nursing a broken heart. I’ve known heartache over the years, but never at this magnitude. While I wait for time to heal it, it continues to break as it waits — for healing, for dreams to come true, for promises to be kept. For time to pass. In any case, time has slowed to a crawl for this grieving heart. “They” purport that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But what about the part of you that dies as you keep on living? The part no one can see? I wish there was an easy fix, but apparently time is in no hurry and the journey isn’t over.

Has time healed or broken your heart?

Quality or quantity … or both?

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

When it comes to fine wine and rich chocolate, quality rules (for the most part).  But what about time spent with loved ones?  Is it key to make the most of what little time we have, or is it better to cram in as much time as possible regardless of what we’re doing?  I’m reminded of a particular instance with my dad while vacationing in January.  We got lost while en route (both directions) on our outing, which added close to two hours to the drive time.  This isn’t how I wanted to spend our time together! I said, smacking my hands on the steering wheel.  At one point he even fell asleep to Public Radio as I tried to figure out where we were (I really need to learn how to use my mobile GPS).  Once we safely returned to his apartment, I realized it really hadn’t mattered that we’d been driving in circles.  The important thing was that we were together.  So even though the quality wasn’t great, I’m grateful we tacked on a bit to the quantity because I never know when I’ll see him again.  There are also those rare occasions when it still doesn’t matter how much time you have with someone, it’s never enough.  So for me, I’ll take all the time I can get, no matter what that entails.

Which is more important to you, quality or quantity … or both?

More trouble than it’s worth?

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[Image credit: Vlado]

Recently, an acquaintance of mine was excited to receive a batch of fishing flies in the mail.  I joked about the fact that he hadn’t gone fishing in over a year and a half.  Well, how long have you wanted to write a book?  Okay, he had a point.  But at least I’ve been working on that goal long before he announced his sporting interest.  Later we talked a little more about how I am able to write at any time and in any place — whereas he doesn’t have that advantage as a fly fishing enthusiast.  Not only isn’t he close to a body of water, but it takes time to coordinate a trip, gather the requisite supplies and work around potential weather conditions.  And I realized how very fortunate I am.  Because even though I regularly schedule time to work on whatever writing project is on the schedule, I don’t have to travel anywhere special or make extraordinary plans to carry out this particular pleasure.  If paper and pencil or laptop isn’t handy, I can tuck my thoughts away to be retrieved at any other given moment.  It also doesn’t cost me anything except maybe a little sleep, blood, sweat and tears.  Not too shabby a price to pay to do what I love.

 I’m just going to write because I cannot help it. ~ The Bronte Sisters

 Do you have a passion that sometimes feels like it’s too much effort?

Blessings in disguise

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[Image credit: Vlado]

I don’t like to sit still.  Unless it’s my choice.  A week ago I fell and sprained my ankle at the end of a 3 1/2 mile run, forcing me to forfeit the gym and stay off my feet more rather than less.  That also meant no repeat of last Tuesday’s sunset hike in the mountains, and no spin class during the past seven days.  But what it has meant is an excuse to curl up on my sofa (with the injured leg elevated, of course) and catch a long-anticipated movie on Netflix, guilt-free.  And instead of dealing with a crowded, noisy restaurant over the weekend, we invited out-of-town relatives to mi casa for a home cooked meal.  In addition, last night we unanimously (albeit silently) declared family TV night for more hours than I care to admit.  Plus, I had a chance to face a critical decision head-on with time to weigh the pros and cons.  In response to a photo of my swollen ankle I posted on Facebook, a couple of my friends jokingly commented that exercise is bad.  Actually, I think my injury produced a few blessings in disguise.

When has something negative happened to you that turned out to be positive in the long run?

You know what you’re doing wrong

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. ~ Andy Warhol

A couple of days ago when I was at the gym, I complained to my trainer that I had made some poor food choices over the weekend — admittedly, since I’ve returned from my trip over 2 1/2 weeks ago.  He dramatically rolled his eyes and shook his head.  You know what you’re doing wrong, right?  Of course I do.  Then stop doing it.  Simple advice but oftentimes easier said than done.  It’s amazing how often we continue engaging in attitudes or behaviors even when we know they may be self-destructive or simply a waste of time.  I possess more questions than answers as to why we do this, but perhaps it’s one of those quirks of human nature, or maybe it has more to do with control than anything else: I can change this or that mind-set or action any time I want to.  So why don’t we then?  Maybe we’re grasping at what little control we do have, exerting authority over the one or two things in our lives no one else can touch.  And we find ourselves either justifying the reason or accepting it at face value.  Because we know what we’re doing wrong and can change it whenever we want to.  Right?

Is there something in your life you want to change or stop doing, but choose not to?