As a young person coming of age in the 80s I bought in to the North American ideals of success. My big hair, six inch heels and peplum style designer suits were the lexicon of the era. Rushing was valued and achievement, at any cost, was applauded. I bought in completely and without question, and it felt great. I was the epitome of Madonna’s material girl.
Prefer to watch a narrated version of this post with the beautiful scenery of Niagara Falls? Here you go. I will say, posts like these are outside of my comfort zone due to their extreme personal nature, still I felt like the message was important for me to share.
I rushed around to meet the clock at it’s designated intervals. Hopping on the subway to work, off to evening classes at university and catching the late bus home, exhausted, but still doing – reading, studying, or learning a language on my Walkman. Always doing. Always racing against the clock.
I lived for weekends. Weekends meant time for me. It meant the illusion of freedom and the opportunity of choice. Those precious 48 hours spent reading a copious amount of books hurriedly purchased at a nearby bookstore, catching up on homework. or hanging out with friends. Often spending late nights at the nightclub dancing while the disco ball winked away the stress of the past week and a looming Monday morning. Still, the unending list of doing, hung fragrantly in my head ticking in time to the clock.
The false sense of freedom was quickly whisked away on a Sunday evening by clothes to prepare for the week ahead, nails to paint, papers to write, research to be done, and agendas to be checked. There were no phone reminders, you wrote things down and looked at your wrist watch multiple times a day. Always doing. Always meeting the clock at its designated time. Always racing to beat it.
My life, through my own choice, was as busy as a Costco on a Saturday morning. (Sam’s Club to you Americans)
Then, my brother died. Suddenly time stopped for me, and I needed to stop with it. I needed to stand still. The shock felt like rocket boosters launching off the launch pad without the countdown. Or the thunder of Niagara Falls crashing down 188 feet, forever altering the shape of mammoth rocks and boulders. It just doesn’t go unnoticed.
It was at that crucial juncture of my early 20s life that I realized, time is love. The time you give, the time you get, it’s all love. The precious hours I spent with him when he had come for an unexpected visit to my little apartment the night before. My casual goodbye to him at the elevator when he was leaving. I ran over those times in my head, over and over. Time I would never get back. Time I hadn’t savoured. Time I thought I’d get to relive again. Time I had taken for granted. That was over three decades ago, and still, intermittently, I think about that time.
Did that experience kill my ambition and the dreams I had for myself? No it did not. It did however reshape my thinking. It taught me how to evaluate my priorities in alignment with love, giving my time to the interminable, the permanent. Shaping and shifting the ever expanding To Do list, allowing the things that matter most, our relationships, to rise to the top.
We live in a dimension where time like a river is linear, moving forward in just one direction. There is no stopping, there is no reversing. We therefore have no choice but to cherish every minute we have right now. This very moment that you are sharing with me is all we have.
We must honour time by accepting our past, planning for our future, and giving attention to our present. Recognizing that time is love by taking time for ourselves and giving it generously to those we love. Pushing aside the ephemeral in exchange for a slow coffee with a friend in need, or a check in to an elderly neighbour. Time spent playing with children while the dishes languish in the sink, or critical minutes spent holding the hand of a passing parent.
And you realize that every thing takes time, the birth of a flower from seed, water reshaping rock, the width of an old tree trunk, falling in love and nurturing it, healing from pain and trauma. It all happens when we give it time.
In our busy world it may seem impossible to take your time, but it is so very possible, as we slow our ourselves, reprioritize, and notice the tiny little things that bring joy. We need to take the time and make the time.
Today I hope you give your time, with your full attention, to someone you love. And thank you for giving me your time today.
Let me know your thoughts on how the constructs of time affect you.