Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Time So Short

Ah, freshman year of university. I was 17, away from home, maintaining a high GPA, and navigating a new social landscape. Those were also the days when I could still sleep in like nobody's business. And sleeping in was what I planned to do for much of the Christmas holidays after completing a very full first semester of post-secondary.

In the depths of sleep that first morning after I arrived home, I was roused to consciousness by noise and light and movement. My father had come in, flipped on the light, and was pumping my mattress up and down with his fists.

"Hey! Wake up! ...It's the shortest day of the year, and you've slept through half of it!"

He exited the room, leaving the light on and the door open to the hum of the house beyond. I opened one eye to the clock; sure enough, it was approaching noon.

I know I got out of bed at that point, though I could not tell you what I did with the rest of that day. Or any of the other days that holiday season, for that matter. All I know is that every year since, on the winter solstice day, this memory plays out in my mind shortly after waking. It's the shortest day of the year; don't sleep through half of it!

My dad just meant it to be funny, but I have to admit, it's become a bit of a mantra for life of which I am reminded as I approach every new year.

Our world is busy. It moves at an incredibly fast pace and we are encouraged to keep up; always keep up. Work, home, extracurriculars, social functions and social media; people demanding our attention through each of these. We forget that life keeps happening while we are busy going from thing to thing on the agenda--and if we're not careful to stop and notice, we will end up 'sleeping' through half of it.

I hate "keeping up." I am not immune to the busy-ness of life by any means. Some days, some weeks--some seasons--are just full. But one of my least favourite feelings is that of feeling rushed--moving from A to B to C with no time to stop and breathe in between. And somewhere along the way I realized that I had the power to make that feeling the exception rather than the rule.

In the work I've chosen, the people I'm committed to, the hobbies I'm involved in, I have learned--am learning--how to set very intentional boundaries with my time and energy. I have learned to ask myself questions before committing to everything under the sun; before trying to "spread my social" across too many spheres; before getting caught up in the spiral of insanity that seems to be the 'norm' of the 21st century.

What are my top values/passions?

Is what I'm doing in line with those values/passions?

Is what I'm doing negatively impacting my commitment to one of my other values/passions?

Is this task I've taken on something that I can do independently, or do I need to be honest and seek the support of others?

Will committing to this thing allow for the valuable recharge time I know I need?

Is my heart attached to this person/these people?

The answers to these questions mean that I have been more forthright with others as to how I'm feeling, and I set clearer boundaries. It means interacting differently with social media. It means volunteering for this, but not that--even when I value both causes equally. It means living at a pace that is often out of sync with even those closest to me.

But it also means more social energy overall for the people who matter most to me, richer memories, more time and less rush; more peace.

As the new year approaches, what questions do you need to ask yourself to ensure a healthy balance of your time?

Because this life is beautiful, and amazing, and rich.

And short.

Don't sleep through half of it.


Bethany Garner said...

Congrats on the new blog, and if you are like your Mom, and I suspect you are, there will be many followers - devoted and appreciative followers! Love your advice and tops for making wise choices in your young life, and the breadth of your wisdom is apparent already. Have a wonderful blogging experience!
Bethany in Kingston, ON

rtquilter said...

Beautiful post, lovely blog and you DO sound like your Mother's daughter! Congratulations. You have it figured Nd some people get very old and NEVER get there! Keep on thinking and feeling and writing. Keep up the photography top. Mine has been a creative lifesaver this year when I have been out of commission otherwise. Happy Christmas and Happy LIFE!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a follower of your mother's blog so I followed her link. You've beautifully expressed an issue that I'm working through now, in my life. Thanks for the insight and food for thought.