Warning: Naughty language ahead!!!
Life is short. Like me, you probably can’t count the amount of times you’ve said or heard those three words.
It’s a modern day mantra. And it’s true.
I feel this to my core. I am hyperaware of it. So much so that I seem to end each day in a frazzled and disbelieving state of “Oh fuckkkk,” as I realize that my 10-item to-do list only has four wobbly squiggles through it.
For what feels like a long time, I have had the feeling that time is running away. Slipping through my hands.
So I clench my fists tight.
And still it slips.
And it makes me anxious.
There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Life is short, I tell myself.
I’ve used these three words as ammo to spur me on. To motivate me to get stuff done. To put a rocket up my ass. Only this rocket didn’t take me to the moon, it just blew my head off and gave me a sore bum.
It made me ill. And unfulfilled. And increasingly selfish.
But about three weeks ago something changed in my world. I realized something, and things have been different ever since. I have been different ever since.
You see, life is short.
But when you think about it, it’s actually pretty long. The feeling that life is short exists only in retrospection. I mean, there are a whole 24 hours in a day. That’s as long as a mayfly’s entire existence (if it’s lucky)—168 hours in a week, 672 hours in a month, 8,736 hours in a year. That’s a lot of hours, a lot of time.
It’s dizzying just how much time there actually is! It can make your head spin. And the more you think about it, the more abstract it becomes. Because that’s exactly what time is—a standardized measurement of our existence that makes it easy for people to organize their lives.
And it’s also relative. To that mayfly, one hour is a whole lot of time.
Time condenses and stretches like an elastic band. It shrinks and grows and rises and falls. And it all depends on our perception. And this changes so easily.
The other day I thought about a holiday I went on last year. My initial reaction was “Blimey! Was that really a whole year ago?! That’s some scary shit.” But then, as I conjured up the miscellaneous happenings and cocktails of different pains and growths that I’d been through since that holiday—the loves, the losses, the joys, the beginnings, the endings—well, time then suddenly felt a whole lot longer. The elastic band stretched and before I knew it I thought “Whoa! Was that only a year ago?! No way, that’s crazy!”
So you see, time is a funny thing. And this whole deal about life being “so damn short so grab it by the balls,” doesn’t always work. If you are driven and naturally impatient, this motto can often put you in a state of adrenaline-fueled frenzy where you feel the constant need to do, do, do until it’s finished.
But it’s never finished.
There is always more shit to do.
Always another thing to add to your to-do list.
For me this focus on how short life is made me put huge amounts of pressure on myself. It made me unable to switch off, unable to relax. I lost presence. I lost my connection to the now because I was always thinking about the next, and then the next, and the next thing I had to do before the sun went down on me.
This thought is akin to trying to breathe whilst a sumo wrestler lies on your chest. It constricts you. It puts pressure on you and makes you heavy. It creates a resistance that you have to fight against. Something to push through until you feel a constant sense that time is running out. A foreboding about the passage of time.
It forces you into action based on fear. Fear that there just isn’t enough time to do all of the things that you want to do. And while fear can be an effective motivator in the short term, after a while it wears you down. It zaps your energy and drive. It cuts you off and bleeds out the love from right fucking now.
I told myself there just weren’t enough hours in the day so much that it became true. And I put so much pressure on my time, that there was no space. No space for any release. No space for any soul searching. For doing those things I love for no other reason than the fact that I love them. My time didn’t allow it. And in putting a magnifying lens up to my time and viewing it as a finite resource, it started to pass more quickly. I became more and more selfish with it. I didn’t mean to, I just had so much shit to do and so little time—or so I kept telling myself.
But about three weeks ago, as I sat at my computer feeling stressed-out over my ever-growing to-do list and the realization that, yet again, I wouldn’t have time to do more writing or take the dogs for a walk or cook a beautiful dinner—things that really matter to me, that make me happy—suddenly the penny dropped.
It really felt like that. Only it wasn’t a penny. It was a huge golden medallion encrusted with diamonds—and it fell straight on my third eye.
In that moment I realized that my belief about time was messing me up. Me and time had some serious relationship issues that we were going to have to work through if we wanted to be happy together. I was suffocating time. And time was crushing me. I couldn’t relax into it because I was putting so much pressure on it.
And then, three words came to me:
“You have time.”
These words sank deep into my core. I got goosebumps. I relaxed and softened. I actually laughed out loud like some crazy woman.
“You have time.”
Yes, I have time.
These three words have quite literally changed my life. They have become my mantra.
“You have time.”
When I say it I almost immediately want to laugh, because I see how crazy I’m being. Speeding through each moment like right now is just a means of getting stuff done and letting my warped sense of time stop me from…er…having a good time.
I laugh because I know that I don’t have time any more than I have a pink-haired unicorn that I can ride to work every day.
No one has time. It is not a thing to be possessed.
What I do have—in fact the only thing I can be sure of—is this moment right now. Instead of trying to somehow own time or stop it from owning me, all I can do is become one with each moment that I am currently existing in.
And when I do this, time stretches. It elongates. It expands. It loosens. It dances. It breathes.
This is what happens when I say to myself, “You have time.”
This mantra makes me slow down, which has never been my strong point. But I am working on it because I know that slowing down is the secret to accessing the moment and finding the beauty in it. If someone had told me any of this three weeks ago, my initial reaction would have been, “What? I don’t have time. That’s precisely the problem you moron! You want me to slow down when I have so much I need to do?! You must be off your trolley!”
It feels counterintuitive to slow down when I’m busy being busy. But if I can just let go enough to notice that I have time, then I can sit comfortably inside each moment. It’s amazing how much time I have when I stop obsessing over how little time I have.
When I am friends with each moment, time doesn’t sit on top of me like some slobbering hound that just doesn’t realize it isn’t lap-dog material. It doesn’t crush me. By focusing on what I am doing now, I don’t find myself becoming overwhelmed with all of the things I need to do. I am aware of them, but there is a sense of clarity and poise and focus.
And a knowing that I will greet those things with the same sense of clarity and focus when I am in the moment of doing them. But for now, I’m dealing with now. And right now, that feels pretty darn good.
So remember dear ones: you have time.
Breathe and repeat: you have time.
You have time.
Author: Claire Diane
Editor: Nicole Cameron
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