Time looks like this

They, whomever “they” is, say that time is our most valuable resource. But what does that mean? We spend time, waste time, lose track of it. We find ourselves with too much or too little time on our hands. We save time, take time, find and give it, too.

With all the saving and spending and giving and taking, it’s hard to really pin down what time is. As a resource, it’s both finite and infinite. Dr Marry likes to say, “When God made time, God made plenty of it.” As an aside, this would be a perfect example of why we need a gender neutral, singular pronoun, and they just feels lazy.

Earlier this week, Dr Marry and I attended a 60-minute spin class. We normally go to 45-minute classes, so you wouldn’t really think that an extra 15 minutes would make that big a difference. Think again.

I learned some important, and not all together settling, things about myself before, during and after those 60 minutes. What I resented most was two-fold: 1) apparently I’ve become a complete creature of habit (yuck!), and I like the rhythm of a 45-minute class. Those extra minutes totally threw off my concept of how I should feel at song number six, for instance. Normally, I know that we are halfway through the class at song number six, and I start to calculate the downward slide to the end. But with an extra 15 minutes, I knew that I was only 1/3ish of the way through the class, and that made me grumpy. 2) I was truly angry to be forced to give up 15 more minutes of my Sunday time to spin class. Angry would actually only be the tip of my emotional ice berg that day, and poor Dr Marry had to navigate around said iceberg until bedtime. I simply had no ability to “pull it together,” so to speak and carried that resentment with me for the rest of that long day.

Then I started thinking about where I am happy to give my time, and why I resented giving up just a little bit more of it to an activity I don’t always love but always find, albeit sometimes begrudgingly, value in.

I  visualized what time looks like to me. Who do I like to schedule time with? What activities or things do I give time to that make me happy or bring me pleasure? What spaces do I like to spend time in to calm my senses or challenge my brain and body? Where do I go to take the time to be creative? And when I identified people, physical elements and locations versus this completely abstract concept, time became much more concrete for me. And by Monday morning, when we were on our way back to spin class, I was done being angry because I realized that this is one of the places where I willingly give time. Cyclebar is a physical manifestation of time for me.

So I ask you, what does time look like for you? Can you clearly identify the spaces, activities and people you are giving time to? Because whether we spend it intentionally or not, time is marching, racing, running, flying by, and we can’t stop it, save it, manage it or bottle it for later. Those extra 15 minutes are gone; I can be irritated that I gave them to a spin class when I would so rather have given them to a number of other tasks and activities, or I can acknowledge that that they are over, regardless of how I spent them, and never to be retrieved again.

We can’t control time, no matter how we try, so then, what can we control? We can control how we react to the time we are given and attempt to spend it as wisely as possible, appreciating the activities, spaces and people with whom we spend it. Time is actually not the important resource, attempting to be aware of and intentional about it is.

Here’s to remembering that next Sunday as we make our way to our next 60-minute spin class.

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