Today, at home instead of work, I am suddenly aware of time.
Not that I wasn't before. Just today I am particularly aware of it.
Oh it is always there, sometimes stretching long and brittle in moments when your child vanishes from sight in a busy department store; snapping back into place as he emerges from a clothes rack at your side.
Sometimes, it compresses the 480 minutes of a work day into such a flurry of activity, you begin to measure your life by the gaps in between, and a year is 48 weekends and a two week vacation---your adult life blurred into years where time is measured in births and deaths.
When I disappeared into the dark spiral of depression and anxiety some two years ago, time became elastic. In the emergency room, time stretched long and thin with no resistance, giving way to one, lone moment.
Most of my recovery was what I call tick-tock-time; each second echoing in your head along side the looped messages of your internal critic : "You need to fix this now. Time is running out. You can't be off work forever. Get it together! Can't you hear time slipping away? What should you be doing? Don't waste this time! Do it right. Do it now. Hurry up!"
Time became my enemy. I railed against the timeline of the eight week group program I attended - feeling the pressure to get it right, fix myself, because clearly someone thought recovery was an eight week process.
The more I tried to negotiate some space--to breath, to think---the more an indifferent Time would look at me blankly and continue to point to the clock. The echoes of the TICK and the TOCK ignited flames of panic as I struggled to breathe.
Just give me a minute!
I am trying!
I don't know if I can pull it together yet...
Look! What do you want from me?!!!
Ok WAIT! WAIT!!! I just need more..
How can I figure it out when I know...
Just STOP!! Can you please just ..
It is impossible to negotiate with time. He's a real hardass. He makes no apologies either. And really, can you blame him?
I don't know what age you can safely point to as the age where you understand that there were people, and things, all well before you, and there will be people and things long after you, and you only get so much of the tick-tock for yourself, but once you know that, it seems to me we humans spend a awful lot of energy resisting that fact.
Our time becomes "precious" - not to be "wasted" in lines or traffic---yet when we do have to wait, we most often choose to use this "precious time" getting furious at its waste instead of finding a way to LIVE in it.
Really. You can spend it investing in your ulcer, your high blood pressure and by tossing around enough negative energy to melt the polar ice caps (has ANYONE considered that as a cause of global warming??) OR you can use the time to sing in the car, recall a favorite memory, breath, smile, engage in conversation or if you must do something, organize your wallet, delete old contacts on your phone, sip some water or call a friend just to say hi.
After two years into "recovery", the tick-tock became a background noise part of life. I don't remember it happening, but somewhere along the line, I stopped waiting for the hammer to fall, the other shoe to drop, whatever it was that made me feel like my recovery had a finish line that I had to cross before I could "handle" a life that included working and being a mom and NOT being miserable and sick all the time.
Things just became "right". Not correct but like right side up. Like a compass kind of. No matter which way I was spun, I was always able to find my north. (Hence why a compass adorns my self-love altar!)
One of my biggest challenges, now that I have returned to work full-time, with a travelling Spouse, the Youngest and three dogs at home and the Middle One just moved in with us, is to hang on while the compass gets a good spin each day.
Finding north in a compass planted in the small world of my back deck, or couch was pretty easy. A spin here or there... a jostle....I became adept at finding my north.
Now, my days include new morning routines, buss runs, icy cold snowy drives to work, lunches, groceries, dinners, dogs, laundry, homework, shower reminders, cleaning, meditation---each giving the compass a WHACK for good measure.
With caution, I watch myself gravitate toward trying to construct a routine to manage it all, while at the same time allowing enough flexibility to not snap when something is not going "to plan"---because you are only setting yourself up for intense frustration if you think NOTHING unexpected will ever happen.
Like a cold, or a dead battery, or forgetting lunch or a meeting or a doctor's appointment it is now too late to cancel on a day when your meeting got moved earlier which means baseball will now have to be later and dinner abandoned in favor of bread and an apple in a cab to pick up your kid.
But a day like today....where I am off work...grateful to not be among the disaster recovery squad dealing with the burst sprinkler system that happened over the weekend ---server down----stock damaged---carpets soaked---I am avoiding the spin and investing in my North.
My North is my writing, my knitting, my cooking, the blue sky, the birds and my puppies. They are the things that ground me and speak to my soul on a level that always brings me back to my North.
They are my passion, my purpose, my expression and my connection that make this segment of tick-tock that I am allotted full of pure happiness and joy.
Because for however long I have, it is all that I have. It is here and now and I choose to live it each blessed second at a time.