You have time
Life is short. Like me, you probably can’t count the amount of times you have heard or said those three words. Life is short. It’s a modern day mantra.
And it’s true.
I feel this to my core. I am hyperaware of it. So much so that I seem to end each day in a frazzled and disbelieving state of ‘oh fuuuuuckkkk’ as I realise that my to do list has only four out of 10 wobbly squiggles through it. And, ah crap, I still haven’t finished that article about procrastination or taken my recycling out.
For what feels like a very long time, I have had the feeling that time is running away. Slipping through my hands.
So I clench my fists tight.
And still it slips.
And it makes me anxious.
There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Life is so short, I tell myself.
I’ve used these three words as ammo to spur me on. To motivate me to get stuff done. To put a rocket up my arse. Only this rocket didn’t take me to the moon, it just blew my head off and gave me a sore bum. And it made me ill. And unfulfilled. And increasingly selfish.
But about 3 weeks ago something changed in my world. I realised something, and things have been different since. I have been different since.
You see life is short.
But here’s the weird thing: when you think about it, it’s actually pretty long. The feeling that life is short exists only in retrospection. I mean, there are a whole 24 hours in a day. That’s as long as a mayfly’s entire existence (if it’s lucky). 168 hours in a week. 672 hours in a month. 8,760 hours in a year. That’s quite a lot of hours. A lot of time.
It’s dizzying just how much time there actually is! It can make your head spin. And the more you think about it, the more abstract it becomes. Because that’s exactly what it is. Time is just a standardised measurement of our existence that makes it easy for people to organise stuff.
And it’s also relative. To that mayfly one hour is a whole lotta’ time.
Time condenses and stretches like an elastic band. It shrinks and grows and rises and falls. And it all depends on our perception. And this changes so easily. The other day I thought about a holiday I went on last year. My initial reaction was ‘Blimey. Was that really a whole year ago?! That’s some scary shit’. But then, as I conjured up the miscellaneous happenings and cocktails of different pains and growths that I’ve been through since that holiday; the loves, the losses, the joys, the beginnings, the endings – well, time then suddenly felt a whole lot longer. The elastic band stretched and before I knew it I thought ‘Blimey! Was that only a year ago?! No way, that’s crazy!’.
So you see, time is a funny thing. And this whole deal about life being ‘so damn short so grab it by the balls’ doesn’t always work. Especially if you are very driven. And naturally impatient. Sometimes this motto can put you in a state of adrenaline-fuelled frenzy where you feel the constant need do-do-do until it’s finished.
But it’s never finished.
There is always more shit to do.
Always another thing to add to your to-do list.
For me this focus on how short life is made me put huge amounts of pressure on myself. It made me unable to switch off. Unable to relax. I lost presence. I lost my connection to the now because I was always thinking about the next, and then the next, and the next thing I had to do before the sun went down on me.
This thought is akin to trying to breathe whilst a sumo wrestler lies on your chest. It constricts you. It puts pressure on your time. It makes it heavy. It creates a resistance that you have to fight against. Something to push though. So much pressure you feel a constant sense that time is running out. A foreboding about the passage of time. There just isn’t enough time. Life is so short.
It is the equivalent of using a whip to make a horse gallop rather than the gentle mastery of the rider. It forces you into action because of some sort of fear. Fear that there just isn’t enough time to do all of the things that you want to do…Fear can be a very effective motivator in the short term. But after a while it wears you out and wears you down. It zaps your energy and drive. It cuts you off and bleeds out the love from right fucking now.
I told myself there just weren’t enough hours in the day so much that it became true. And I put so much pressure on my time that there was no space. No space for any release. No space for any soul searching. For doing those things I love for no other reason than the fact that I love them. My time didn’t allow it. And in putting a magnifying lens up to my time and viewing it as a very finite resource, it started to pass so much more quickly. I became more and more selfish with it. I didn’t mean to, I just had so much shit to do and so little time…I kept telling myself.
But about 3 weeks ago, as I sat at my computer feeling stressed-out at my ever-growing to-do list and the realisation that, yet again, I wouldn’t have time to do more writing or take the dogs for a walk or spend time cooking a beautiful dinner (things that really matter to me. Things that make me happy)…Suddenly the penny dropped. It really was like that. Only it wasn’t a penny, it was a huge golden medallion encrusted with diamonds and it fell straight on my third eye.
In that moment I realised a lot.
I realised that my belief about time was messing me up. I realised that me and time had some serious relationship issues that we were going to have to work through if we wanted to be happy together. I was suffocating time. And time was crushing me. I couldn’t relax into it because I was putting so much pressure on it.
As I realised this, three words came to me…
‘You have time.’
‘You have time.’
These words sank deep into my core. I got goosebumps. I relaxed and softened. I actually laughed out loud like some crazy woman.
‘You have time.’
Yes, I have time.
These three words have quite literally changed my life.
They have become my mantra. ‘You have time’. When I say it I almost immediately want to laugh. The reason it makes me laugh is because it makes me realise how crazy I’m being – speeding though each moment like right now is just a means to getting stuff done, letting my sense of time stop me from, erm, having a good time.
It also makes me laugh because it’s actually pretty ironic (I’m a sucker for irony)…
I don’t really have time, anymore than I have a unicorn with pink hair that I ride to work everyday. No one has time. It is not a thing to be possessed.
What I do have – in fact the only thing I can be sure of – is this moment right now. And instead of trying to somehow own time or stop it owning me, all I can do is become one with each moment that I am currently existing in. And when I do this, time stretches. It elongates. It expands. It loosens. It dances. It breathes.
This is what happens when I say to myself ‘you have time’.
This mantra makes me slow down. Slowing down has never been my strong point. But I am really working on it. I know that slowing down is the secret to accessing the moment and finding the beauty in it. Imagine trying to find a sapphire in river when you are hurtling through it with your waders on, muddying the water with each new step. It just ain’t gonna happen. But god knows I’ve tried.
If someone had of told me ‘you have time’ and to ‘slow down’ 3 weeks ago, my initial reaction would have been ‘what? I don’t have time, that’s precisely the problem you moron! You want me to slow down when there’s so much I need to do?! You must be off your trolley!’
It feels counterintuitive to slow down when I’m busy being busy. But if I can just let go enough to realise that I have time, then I can sit comfortably inside each moment. It’s amazing how much time I have when I stop obsessing over how little time I have.
When I am friends with each moment, time doesn’t sit on top of me like some slobbering hound that just doesn’t realise it really isn’t lap-dog material. It doesn’t crush me. Focused on what I am doing now, I don’t find myself becoming overwhelmed with all of the things I need to do. Yea I am aware of them, but there is a sense of clarity and poise and focus. And a knowing that I will greet those things with the same sense of clarity and focus when I am in the moment of doing them. But for now, I’m dealing with now. And right now, that feels pretty darned good.
So remember dear ones, time is on your side.
Breathe and repeat: you have time.
You have time.