I don’t have a great relationship with time. While I’m proud of my singular ability to relax and let time pass when need be, I’m also a lover of sleep and staying up late. Thus, left to my own devices, I’m ready to start the day when it’s nearly over.
I’d be okay with this, if the entire freakin world wasn’t bent on creating a 8am – 10pm schedule that I just can’t fit into.
As a freelancer, too, this becomes ever more difficult.
I’ve read two people’s opinions on time this week, both of which I love, and both of which contradict the other.
The first is at Galley Cat. It’s a tiny profile piece (excerpted from the New Yorker) on therapist Barry Michaels, a guy who takes the Father Time archetype to heart. His recommendation is to submit to time as you would a stern father figure. Through that submission, he suggests, one can be freed of being one’s own master and instead hew to a greater authority.
There’s much to be said for submission, and I’m sure it’s been much better elsewhere on some of my kinky compatriots’ blogs.
It’s a beautiful philosophy, though it does require a preexisting commitment to one’s creative work. One has to be enrolled in school before your dad can force you to do your homework.
The opposing philosophy of time management is from Gay Hendricks, in his book “The Big Leap.” While I tend to shy away from business and self-help books in this vein, since I live with an entrepreneur, they tend to accumulate near the bath. Alas. It’s actually a pretty interesting read, and his philosophy on time management hit me pretty hard. Hendricks suggests that most complaints come from not taking responsibility, and feeling like a victim. Since I’m allergic to victimhood in my personal life, it’s pretty awesome to notice how I (and most people) feel at the whims of time rather than in control of it. He points out language like “I’d love to stay, but I have to run,” and “Where did the day go?” as ways we remove our agency around time. Rather than saying what’s true, “I don’t want to do X,” we blame time on not allowing us to do X. That’s true and interesting, but where the mental jiu-jitsu comes in is how we flip the script. Hendricks insists that
“Stress and conflict are caused by resisting acceptance and ownership. If there is any part of ourselves that we’re nt fully willing to accept, we will experience stress and friction in that area. The stress will disappear the moment we accept that part and calim ownership of it. At that moment, the disowned part of us is ebmraced into the wholeness of ourselves, and from that place of wholess, miracles are born”
In taking ownership of time, you are able to solve the problems it seems to give you. Like in a healthy relationship, sometimes you own a conflict to ease the tension. Rarely is one person entirely to blame for any conflict in a relationship. And yes, sometimes time may be dicking you over, but in taking responsibility for that, you’re able to ease a lot of the tension and put your focus back on getting shit done.
I was having a lot of tension arise around my day job. I’ve tried practicing gratitude and grace around it. It offers a lot to me, but one thing I couldn’t quite grasp was that my time was ever being well-spent at it. No matter what was happening at the office, or the fact that the job was paying my rent, I just felt like my time would be better spent working on what I love, which is writing fiction.
Now, I’m sure someday I’ll have the chance to make more money writing and working on my own business, but for the time being, I need that monthly paycheck to survive. No matter how many times I tried convincing myself by verbalizing my appreciation for the fact the job existed, I never felt it in my bones as truth.
But after I read that, I decided to try taking responsibility for my time spent at my job, and by golly, it worked.
I got stuff done, I didn’t gripe about it, and I felt better after a full day’s work. In fact, I felt so good, that I had the energy to work on my own projects after my office job, when I’d usually be “recouping” or blowing off steam.
Perhaps I’m a natural dominant (yes, yes I am). And maybe our relationship with time is like our relationship with a lover. Some of us need to be told what to do and when to do it. Some of us need to be in control and making our own demands. I have a feeling, like with lovers, you creatives out there will begin to relax as soon as you realize what relationship with time you’d like to have. Are you going to submit or dominate? Who cracks the whip in your relationship with time?