We want… More Time

Tempus fugit - Thanks FlickrLast night, when the kids were tucked sweetly in footie pajamas and in bed, I started racing through a list of things I wanted to get done before I hit the hay myself.

The list looked something like this:

  • do dishes
  • sort through 5 bins of summer clothes
  • write blog post
  • make contact with other life forms
  • make sure all the kids’ school paperwork is in order for the week
  • finally made a google spreadsheet of all the kids’ family-friend contact lists
  • Prep for writing gig for the next day
  • eat ice cream
  • have sex with husband
  • laundry (natch)
  • go for a walk
  • make friends
  • find myself
  • be a better person
  • free the world of injustice
  • join my husband on the sofa to watch “Fringe.”

At 8:05 p.m. daily, I get an irrational surge of energy that creates temporary madness in my mind. I suddenly am sure I can do all manner of things before 9:30, when Colin really would like me to get to the last one on the list.

This Fringe-like sense of time and determination leads to a daily experience of failure for me. It’s somehow easier to see the pile of things I didn’t get done — and wish for the time to do them — than to remember and give myself credit for the things I did get done.

I am not sure it is all that American, this constant drive forward. Instead it seems more evolutionary. Or maybe we are just following the pendulum on its usual path.

What does seem particularly human is the feeling that just how I am is not good enough. If I move forward, I’ll find the more that I can be.

It’s hard to be still in the moment and be OK with that; better to get caught up in the habit of filling time to overfull with activities that deaden that sound of voice.

Regardless, it is safe to say that just as I am always deeply disturbed when it is 9:37 p.m. and I’ve only gotten 2-3 items checked off my list, this morning I looked at the calendar and realized:
September is gone, and I am not done with it yet. 

This post is one of the obviously now mis-titled “month-long” BIG QUESTION series “What Does America Want?”

Look for at least two more posts, one by Guest Contributor, Author Jennifer Wilson, on October 11, and a final post in October 13. 

  5 comments for “We want… More Time

  1. Frances
    October 3, 2011 at 8:15 am

    you keep forgetting to add things to the list that you know you can check off:
    – Breath
    – Smile
    – laugh
    – be my friend.

    See! That is 4 things to add the the other 3 already. 7 things done – look how productive you are!

    • jeff
      October 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      as long as you get 8&9 you’re good

  2. December 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    What we all want, what we all need, is some SLACK. From each other, from ourselves, from society, from employers…SLACK. Every system needs it. Your car engine belts would break without it. We’ve squeezed it out of our lives and we WANT IT BACX. (imho)…

  3. December 4, 2011 at 5:12 am

    I know my dh would agree with Jeff, lol! Confession: my nightly list is shorter, but it always ends in: watch Grey’s Anatomy with husband!

    What is right is that this is it, right now is all we can do about anything.

    Confession: I say this as I am sitting on the sofa at 5am on Sunday, trying to figure out why today’s to-do list includes making buttermilk pancakes, making a doll I should have made a year ago, a dress for the doll, and recording a French Christmas carol for the neighbor that should have also been done weeks ago.

    No more stressing, it’s the only way to go. My warm four-year-old is sleeping next to me and he matters, his contented breathing, his in-his-sleep-giggles, his realness. The rest can rot…or wait.

    • December 4, 2011 at 5:31 am

      Angela, no more stressing is right, though I have noticed that it is such a habit! Trying to relearn my story, at Pema Chodron says, so that I don’t just respond in the same way.

      I have found I sometime wake up in the middle of the night — 4 a.m. — and get up. Just to have some quiet alone time. Those are the days of push and pull: when I feel refreshed for having the quiet time, but exhausted from too little sleep. Sigh…

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