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NO-TIME

April 26, 2016

People seem to fall into one of three categories, being obsessed with either Time, Money or Power. Let's call power power/fame but not take it any further. I myself suffer a Time obsession. I know exactly how many minutes it takes me to commute (27 to job by bike with lockup), how long it takes to go from asleep to shoes-on-out-the-door (18-22 minutes, depending on the previous night's activities) and suffer a nagging suspicion that the credit card bill I just paid last week is due again any day now...

 

My mom explained to me that she was scared (scarred?) into promptness by an emphatic french horn teacher who instilled in her high school band that "to be five minutes early is to be on time, and to be on time is to be five minutes late." And somewhere in my memory my grandpa Mac decided it was time to leave Thanksgiving dinner and parked in the driveway for fifteen minutes with the car running waiting for my grandma.

 

I will also confess to what I am less comfortable with and even bad at: no-time. No-time is the days or time that have no plan or that have so many possibilities of plan that my mind collapses on itself. Days off, for example, are what I and most other working people crave, but an open-ended day off also carries a measurable amount of anxiety. There are about a million things I would like to do on a day off and another million that I should probably get done to remain an upstanding citizen (do laundry rather than buy more underwear; maybe both). I wake up, feeling the possibility of a free day and about 10 seconds later comes the onset of strategizing what the day "should" become. Is it nice outside? I should already be outside! Is it cloudy or rainy? I should get all of the projects I've been cooking up done! Simultaneously, if possible. Is it not a day off but I don't work until 5:00? I should get some groceries, pick up extra toothpaste and go to the gym before I clock in! My boyfriend teases me that I am so hyper in the morning, but I can't possibly help it. It was pointed out to me when I was 20 and shocked someone by disclosing that I picked out my clothes the night before for the following day. In my defense, this is when I was working in a coffee shop, and a 5:30am wakeup was de rigueur. The nervousness that I felt, however, when she suggested that I simply try for one week NOT to do this pointed out that I might have a bit of a planning obsession.

 

Twelve years later, I am still fighting trying to fit every single thing ever into one day. I realized on Saturday morning, as I was zipping through the farmer's market, dropping off frozen compost, signing a bike lane petition, wondering whether I had time to return home with the groceries before I went to the Y before I went to work, "Hey... maybe I need to slow it down a little bit!" And the best part was, I DID slow it down. I stopped biting the heels of the market strollers in front of me and looked at the piles of beautiful vegetables (code: pies, cookies, breads and locally made beer). I walked along the park back to my apartment checking out the sunny sky above me. I realized I had a couple of hours before work and took a bike ride over to Thompkins, sat in the sun, got a taco and marg at Empellon before my shift started. Best of all, I enjoyed the hell out of Saturday. 

 

Spring is a tricky minx. She isn't clearly all-day-beach-days. She is a little bit of winter day work mode, she is a little bit of new growth ambition and she is above all a fleeting thing. So are we. 

 

I am still obsessed with time. Last night, I was reading the Bureau of Labor Statistics' dry 2014 report on the daily time breakdown of an "average" American and an article pointing out that prison inmates are now receiving more daily outside time than the average child. This week, however, I promise to remember harder that life isn't a timed trial. Perhaps that implicit, running To Do list is secretly titled "Want To Do".

 

 

 

 

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