“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” -Dr Seuss
The one thing that makes everything else real is our time. In fact, what we do with our time is our life. Time is the only resource, which we are allotted in equal measure, and often the one we squander mindlessly. We speak in terms of time management and search for balance between our work and personal affairs and yet rarely glimpse what time is really for- until we brush against its end. Death is the great clarifier of our time, the moment when we witness just how brief and fleeting this life really is. We had a death in our family this week; so I am here again, looking at what I do with my hours and wondering why I still can’t seem to have a realistic relationship with how much can be done in a day. Still, with each new experience of this final loss, I think often and hard about what I spend my time doing and why.
Here are the three litmus tests that I use to evaluate how I use my precious resource of time.
1. Is there any joy in me? Can I be curious and open to the world around me? Can I feel grateful for anything in this moment? Too many times I look up from my doing and realize that I have totally lost sight of the miracle of this day. Fear, judgment and longing cloud my ability to be positive and have eaten hours of my day.
2. How does my body feel when I am doing whatever it is that keeps me busy? This is an easy one to stay with because my body has been speaking loudly when it is stressed. Our bodies don’t lie and they are the most immediate reflection of the truth of what we are doing with our time. Learning to identify our feelings and paying attention to the physical messages associated with them is what presence looks like. Leaving a day in pain is a good sign that I am being foolish with my time.
3. I always say that in the last moments of our life, the only thing that will come into any equation of our life is who you love and who loved you back. So I often check in and think about whether what I am doing now will translate into these final moments. Are my intentions loving? Am I connecting? Is there any lasting value or harm in what is in my thoughts or actions?
I don’t always get it right- in fact, almost every day I waste some of my time on things that wouldn’t pass any of these tests. But with each death that I encounter, I am more committed to living in the space of real time that equals love.