How often do we find ourselves wishing there was more time? Time to get our work done, time for family and friends, or time to look after ourselves better and have more fun?
In my counselling work, which includes helping people with injuries and illnesses, I am often reminded that not everyone is sharing this experience of “never enough time.” For many people, time stretches out endlessly, while they suffer in loneliness, physical and emotional pain, loss of purpose, loss of belonging and relationships and roles, uncertainty about the future, or all of the above.
My perspective is a bit unique, perhaps. About seven years ago, while I was busy being busy, I got sick. And I continued to be sick for a number of years. There were no easy cures (but damn, did people ever try to find them for me!). My body hurt. My insides hurt. I was so tired, and I was afraid. There were several stretches of time where I thought I was going to have to quit working, and where I feared I would lose my community and my sense of purpose. People around me suggested I give up working. I struggled against this idea. I grieved. I grieved hard. And to some extent, I accepted that the end of my career, in my thirties, might be my reality. It happened to other people I knew. Why wouldn’t it be happening to me?
Then, I started to get better. Some of it was finding answers, and some was serendipity or the alignment of the planets or some other mysterious force of nature. My health isn’t perfect, but it’s been consistently much improved. I’ve moved on. I finished grad school. I’m taking risks and trying new things. And I’m living in what feels like “bonus” time – this stretch of time and energy I did not expect, and cannot take for granted.
And so instead of “there’s only so much time” I often feel this sense of “only, there’s so much time!” Not just time, but time in which doing things is possible. I’m back to work, multiplied by about four or five contracts. I feel fortunate to have a lot of choices about work, and about being part of communities of people and organizations. I know I am blessed to be able to help people who are dealing with the uncertainty of having their bodies go through unexpected malfunctions – not because I have the answers to fix what ails them, but because I can be someone who gets it.
I’m spinning a lot of plates right now. But I don’t take it for granted that I am able to show up, and be connected and engaged. Increasingly, I am choosing to work at the level of heart and soul, where I can make a difference to someone. I am no longer willing to do things that are a poor use of my time and a waste of what I have to give to the world. Because I’ve got all this time that has been given to me, and no matter how many grains are left in my hourglass, I recognize that time is a gift.