Lately I've been thinking about time, and how I decide to use it / spend it / waste it / make the most of it.
Time is something we tend to both cherish and take for granted. People spend time in the office to make money for their children that they never get to spend time with. People spend hours at home online trying to find love, then cancel plans because they don't want to make the time in real life to actually leave the house to go out on dates.
Time moves slowly when we're unhappy, it moves so quickly when we're happy. It moves slowly when we're bored, it moves quickly when we're busy. We're constantly trying to freeze, capture, and preserve it - and yet not enjoying time in the moment we have it.
I'm turning 35 next week, which has definitely been a reason for these thoughts. Sometimes I forget how quickly time is passing until my next birthday approaches. I'll see a post about a friend's baby who's now walking (wasn't that kid just born!?), or I have a memory about that last apartment I lived in (was that really 4 years ago?), and realize how much the swift passing of time surprises me.
My freelance work is constantly fluctuating, and when I find myself with unscheduled free-time on my hands I am unsure what to do with myself. Sure, there are plenty of things I could or should be doing, and plenty of things I want to do but shouldn't be doing. Sometimes I just dwell on the unknown and feel upset with how little I'm contributing to the world, then put in another movie or read another chapter in my book club book.
I should embrace this open schedule while it's here, because there will inevitably come a time where I don't have it anymore. When I'm so crazed and distracted and busy that finding the time to slow down and crack open a book or write a blog post seems like a blissful vacation.
I feel that with such little time on this earth, I should be spending every moment creating / growing / learning / loving. If I'm not doing any number of those things, I feel guilty. I'm failing myself in some way. I crawl into bed, unsure of what I truly accomplished that day besides getting groceries, or finally washing all of my dishes. I lay awake thinking: REALLY, Beth? That's the best you could do?
Now, there's nothing wrong with relaxing, having some time to myself, or just sitting and comfortably enjoying some peace. I'm sure that our ancestors did it a lot more than we do now, especially in a world of constant stress and distractions. But when thinking about time, and how quickly it passes - it makes me pause to think about what I'm doing with mine.
I remember thinking that taking a year off from booze would be the longest year of my life. But nope - it's already over! And now that I've realized how much of a blip a year is in my existence, I want to see what else I can do with another year. What's next? How else can I change my life? What else can I do to create / grow / learn / love??
And the cycle begins again.
We've all felt that anxiety. That thought that we're not doing enough. That we haven't accomplished enough in a day, week, month. We get such high expectations for what we think we're supposed to do with our time and our lives, because we believe that others are accomplishing so much more! But what about just being? What about existing, breathing in the air, sleeping in, laying on your back and watching the clouds pass, and simply enjoying solitude? Those things enrich our lives too.
Yes, we should embrace the time we have and use it as much as we possibly can. However, part of that is just enjoying that we're here. That we have a chance to live, exist, love, learn, create - in whatever time frame that may be. I may feel the need to do ALL THE THINGS and do them RIGHT NOW, but stressing out about that doesn't accomplish anything.
This post was my way of figuring out what to do with my time, and I think I spent it wisely. I'm feeling better already.