Making Time – Carey Kirk, Lighthouse
This morning, I went to get a cup of coffee and decided to walk past the beach on my way back to the clinic. As I was sauntering, keeping one eye on the shoreline and the other on my watch, I saw a man sitting on the beach drawing. Immediately, the thought came into my mind: “I wish I had time to sit like that.” This is not an unfamiliar thought. I often find myself either thinking or saying out loud in conversation “I’m too busy,” “I don’t have time,” and making promises to myself: “When I have time I will meditate/call my best friend in the U.S./go running/try that new restaurant/learn to play piano…” as if at some magical juncture, time will present itself to me. But there is always something else to do.
And today – as with other days that have come and gone in the past – I reminded myself that this magical juncture doesn’t exist. “When I have time” will always mean “never” unless I do something about it. Time is not given – time is made. I know this. I have realised this many times in the past, yet I keep having to remind myself. Why? Upon deliberation, there are so many reasons.
Making time requires active awareness in our day. Active awareness refers to bringing a mindful presence to moments in our day. It involves noticing how we are spending our time in this moment and being able to ask ourselves “Is this how I want to spend my time right now?”
Making time also involves self-discipline. “No, I am not going to watch TV right now. I am going to use this time to _____________ (insert goal).” This means having the discipline to stop ourselves before we start drifting into the automatic behaviours and actions of our day as well as the discipline to disengage and make a conscious change when we realise we would rather be doing something else.
However, active awareness and self-discipline take energy. When you work long hours or have a demanding routine, it takes far less energy and effort to operate on our default setting: autopilot. Making time is also a choice. Similar to the DBT concept of ‘turning the mind,’ the decision to make time is not a one-time thing. We need to turn our minds in the direction of making this choice again and again, day after day or even hour after hour.
Regardless of the energy and effort involved, the process of making time is essential for our overall well being. In today’s fast-paced society, it is easy for things to happen, time to pass, and for the day to end before we know it. Being a passive participant in our lives is known to be a contributing factor in generating feelings such as anxiety, depression, isolation, helplessness, and being overwhelmed. Reminding myself of this, I have taken a hard look at my weekly routine and actively chosen to block out some time to sit at the beach – heat and sandstorm permitting. And tomorrow, I will undoubtedly have to remind myself again: I am only too busy if I allow myself to be.