Feeling Time vs. Filling Time

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.


Today I found myself all by myself with a half hour wait. The internet was spotty where I was so I was spared the default of wasting my time on facebook and instagram. Usually I bring a book if I think I’ll have a few minutes to kill. Even if I’m unwinding in the bath I’m quick to catch up on my favourite podcasts. This time was different: instead of filling my time, or killing my time, I planned to deliberately feel the time and be present.

Time changes with time. As a child I counted my age by quarter years and counted down to each birthday with such anticipation. I know of exactly zero middle aged women who do this. Instead we muffle our age, marvel at how quickly time passes these days, and insist that the giants in our friends’ Christmas cards can’t possibly be the babies for whom we had crocheted blankets and changed diapers.

In my own journey I have learned to be very productive within my time constraints. Got ten minutes? You’d be amazed at what a mother can do with ten minutes. My childhood self who thought she was too busy to practice piano would be amazed at who she’s become.

She might not be fully pleased with the grown-up me. My journey to efficiency has brought me many positives but upon this altar I have placed my imagination, my sense of calm, and quite likely a healthy blood pressure.

So for this planned waiting period away from common distractions I chose to set aside my go-to time fillers as well. I didn’t finish that novella in the New Yorker I’m reading nor did I grab any of the five books on my nightstand. I had a pen and paper, and a perfect vantage point for people watching.

Sure, my waiting period would have been a different story if I wasn’t alone, but I can take the lessons I learned and apply them to being better when with the people I love, especially the part about not having an agenda and just letting things happen. I can certainly be better at being present in my life.

I took the time to breathe, to slow down. I shut down the to-do list that runs through my mind day and night. I let my thoughts wander. The time passed quickly and it didn’t at all feel wasted. I let the minutes happen, and instead of cramming them full of productivity or killing them with mindlessness, I felt them and sat with them. It isn’t something I could do for an entire day, there are certainly things that need to get done and I am a restless soul, but a little mindfulness goes a long way. I found a peace that I haven’t found from yoga in years, a calm that stayed with me for the rest of the day; rush hour traffic and a messy kitchen were no match for me.

Stay balanced, my friends.

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