29 March 2017

On Maximizing Time

(Not the river I was looking at)
I work 4 different jobs. Some days I go from one to the other, and have 2 hours in between to work on something for a third. Piecing together my time in the most effective way is a constant challenge and necessity. Those in between hours are often a site of dilemma. Do I go home? Do I find a coffee shop? In which neighborhood? Do I stay parked and walk to a café or drive to one? Do I pack lunch or buy lunch? Will there be Wi-Fi? What can I reasonably accomplish in two hours?

Today* I got in my car and just started moving. I didn’t feel like buying a coffee, so I drove past the coffee shop. I figured I’d just go home in that case. But then I turned down a bridge I’d never driven and ended up taking a new, scenic route. Soon, I found myself pulling over to simply park by the river. It’s 34 degrees today, so I’m not lunching al fresco, but even in my car, just looking at the river was the best lunch I’ve had in a long time.

Without internet in my car, I can’t accomplish the actually pressing work I need to finish - work that has had my chest contracting in fits of anxiety all week. But somehow, I feel more at peace and relaxed sitting here, eating almost-al-fresco, than I have all week.

“Using time wisely” is an interesting phrase because wisely can be quite variable. Perhaps it would have been wiser to go somewhere with internet, to do my real work, instead of sitting here writing this essay. And maybe later I’ll be kicking myself, when I’m spending my whole evening and tomorrow morning making up for it. But right now, I simply cannot feel I chose wrongly. I haven’t sat before nature in far too long. I’m absorbed in my city, looking on concrete and metal and asphalt all day. I do get to walk around a 2.5 acre farm for work every few days, but, that’s work. I’m not reflecting and recharging.

I haven’t had time to write in two months. Two whole months since I’ve been able to do what I actually enjoy doing most, want to spend my time doing. Certainly, not making time for your main passions is not “using time wisely.” But, reflection doesn’t pay the bills.

Still, even when I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to do, memorize, produce, be; even when I don’t have time to drink anything other than water; even when I have to strategize every minute of my time; I need to give myself a break, a moment – well, actually 2 hours – to stare at river and allow myself to decompress. To say to myself, it will get done, but don’t stress yourself out right now. To look at the last shadows of winter and anticipate the coming colors of spring. To write and have a thought beyond my to-do list.

This isn’t wasting time. It’s fruitful on a different level. It’s rearranging. It’s breathing. It’s needed. And it’s wise.

* I wrote this a week ago and am just getting to publish it. Not kidding about the time thing.

1 comment :

  1. Wise words, indeed! Mary, this is lovely. So glad you found the time to write and reflect and simply be. Here's hoping these moments come around more often!