I’ve been thinking a lot this week about time. We are constantly marking our lives with time: it is how we schedule our lives. We schedule ourselves to the point where it appears none of us have enough of it.
I am currently seeing one private client (I have hopes of having my own small private practice) and this week she made the comment that it was if she blinked and 20 years of her life went by. She is questioning where time went, what was she doing with her time.
We all ask those questions about our lives.
Grief warps all understanding of time, a death can feel like it was just yesterday or at the same time seem like forever ago. As a grief counselor, one of the best gifts I felt I could give my clients was to remind them the short amount of time it had been since a death. I found myself constantly reminding someone it had only been two months, six months, just a year. For me – it has only been 10 weeks since Mom’s death. It is easy to feel like it has been a long time.
God has given me either the gift (or burden) of having a fantastic memory – one where I can remember dates and times, what I was wearing, perhaps what you were wearing, what somebody said (my supervisor would call me regularly and ask me to remember something). Over the past few weeks I have been remembering this time last year – the few weeks of my fertility shots, the days I drove to the specialist. This weekend marks when we went to Cincinnati and knew that that we would be able to retrieve my eggs – and then we found out they were all fertilized and my implantation was the day before Mother’s day (my mom went with me for the procedure).
As I approach this weekend I can not help but think about this time a year ago but I also remind myself that this is a new year.
I challenged my clients in regards to how they look at time. I believe because we are used to the school calendar system that we truly view life as placing one year on top of the next and thus we are constantly thinking about “This time last year”. The reality is that time is linear. Time is constantly moving forward and although today is May 4, it is not the same May 4 as last year or two years ago.
Sometimes we all would like to go back and redo time – make a different decision, do something different. Sadly, we can not. Once that second, that minute, that hour and day are gone – they are gone.
We spend so much time thinking about time (Think about that). From a client perspective, I shared that when we spend too much time thinking about the past it leads us into depression as we are typically wishing we could have changed something. When we spend too much time thinking about the future – it typically leads to anxiety. The statement I shared with anyone coming into my office was if they could prove something was real, we could talk about it and deal with it. Otherwise, we were working with something nonexistent – we would spend time and energy on something that may never happen.
One of my favorite Mary Oliver quotes is:
” Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? “
This week I’ve watched several good friends struggle with decisions in regards to what they are going to do in their lives – with their work careers, their personal lives. Many of them spend so much time worrying about things that they simply do not have time for the important activities like their family or friends. Everyone keeps thinking that things will get better- give it some time. The next thing you know they will be like my client and state “I blinked and the years went by.”
We all also think we have more time. We mark time in regards to when we lose 20 pounds, when we have enough money, when we get the time……..meanwhile the days, months and years go by.
My Mom turned 65 the day after her surgery to have her kidney removed. The hospital is not how one plans to spend their 65th birthday. She had not planned on retiring and had hoped to work a few more years as she loved her job. My Mom was also one of those people who kept waiting for time. The time would come later to take the cruise she wanted to take, to sale her house and downsize. I know there were things she wanted to do but the time didn’t come. Or perhaps, the time came and she wasn’t ready, or didn’t feel she could take the time. I would like to have asked her what she would have done differently over the years.
I love this statement because I feel it is something each of us can relate to. We are constantly waiting…. for something. As a result, we don’t appreciate the now, today. I believe we all tell ourselves that we will be happy if….. if we make more money, marry a certain person, buy the big house, drive the high end car, lose the weight, buy new clothes. As a result we are always waiting for the time to come when we will be happy.
Mindfulness is an art that I feel everyone has to work on.
What is good about today?
Is the sun shining where you are?
Is it warm? Are flowers blooming?
What is around you that makes you smile?
What are you thankful for at this moment?
It is perfectly OK if one does spend time remembering good memories or preparing in a positive manner for something in the future. However, appreciate the time of today. You will receive only one today. It is just as special as the big event you are looking forward to and the memory you cherish.
Remember: Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.