Monday, July 31, 2006

Time Takers

I was planning to write about something else today, but instead, here is today's current reflection.

This is something that is very important to me, something I am learning to make space for and protect: my time.

Ah, personal time, my creative time. Time to be filled with my choices, not the needs of others. Since it is so rare, I guard it with an intensity that is foreign to many of my single or childless friends who are still living in cruise mode. They do not yet know of significant time takers, unconscious thieves of personal space. How can they?

The luxury of float, drift, unfocused grazing time, protection from responsibility or accomplishment, loose connection to time management or organization especially with regard to other's time and needs, non-direct communications, passive-aggressive behavior, avoidance-attack mode of living…these are a modus operandi of a past life. I cannot and do not choose to live this way any longer.

You can never fully understand this issue from the narrow perspective seen through single, or even married childless eyes. When one is pulled by other's needs, say 85% of the waking day, those final 15% become precious. Extremely rare and hard to come by. They become a "gift." They are wrapped in the expectation for something yummy, satisfying, productive, creative, relaxing, social, or in short, something positive or fulfilling in some personal way.

They are not to be taken lightly, or stolen, or disrespected, or wasted by another's lack of consideration or non-communication. That just doesn't work for me anymore. Not right now.

My time is extremely valuable and I want to protect it as a mother lion does her cubs. Fiercely.

When I was single, I used to fritter away HOURS at a time sleeping, eating, drinking, carrying on, being entertained, getting caught up in the latest dramas, talking on the phone for hours, working on my creative projects for days at a time uninterrupted, traveling, exploring, working out… And I could sleep. Oh, I remember sleeping! Until 10 or 11 sometimes. Whatever. I have all the time in the world, I thought. I didn't even think about it. Everything was about me. Or what he said, she said…and how that affected me.

Not now. This just isn't my reality anymore. It can't be. Maybe when my daughter reaches grade school, and my business is off the ground and bringing in money. Maybe then I'll have more time. Maybe when my husband and I aren't one inch away from shattering and the financial stress isn't at our throats anymore. Then I can slow down. Then I can drift a bit. But not now.

So in the meantime, if you cannot respect my time, if you leave me hanging and don't respond to my calls or emails in a timely manner, if you don't show up when you say you will and don't call to communicate what the holdup is or to reschedule, if you disrespect my child's needs like timely meals and sleep, or if you expect me to drop everything to be 100% available to you…in short, if you expect me to read your mind to find out your needs, then do the clean up when you splatter them after the fact, then, this isn't going to work for me and unfortunately our friendship will suffer.

Until you know what having most of your precious freedom taken away feels like, except at the sacrifice of sleep, when you go on 4-6 hours of sleep per night for over 4 years in order to fit everything in and even then everything doesn't fit, when you've been pulled and yanked and interrupted six million-four thousand-nine hundred ninety-three times to where you can barely finish a sentence let alone a thought or paragraph, when you begin to be responsible for more than just your life and livelihood, when every aspect in your life is pulling at you and suffering from lack of enough attention, when your plate is so full and full of responsibility that it is threatening to bowl you over, then, and only then, will you begin to open your narrow perspective beyond just your own personal view and hopefully see through a wider lens….

Perhaps then you will be more understanding. Perhaps then you will have more regard for other's time, or children's needs. Perhaps then you will understand the sacrifice made to stay open and connected to your disorganized "whatever" kind of life at the expense of very limited and precious "free" time. It wasn't free. Abusing this precious time could cost us our friendship.

May we all continue to grow and open our perspectives…even offer help or understanding where possible.

Now, that being said, onward to better use with our time.

Thanks for listening.


Suzy said...

Wow, what a stunning piece. Fantastic boundary setting! Good for you not putting up with anyone's nonsense of wasting your time, and that's exactly what it is! YOUR TIME!!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

When people waste my time, keep me waiting, etc., I find it the height of arrogance, and a total deal breaker! You said it beautifully, take an A!

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about technology, and how integrated it has become to our daily lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further develops, the possibility of uploading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could see in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]nintendo dsi r4i[/url] DS QDos)