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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Time-- Friend or Foe?

"Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them." ~Dion Boucicault
Time is my biggest commodity these days. This is ironic because when I was a teacher, time seemed to be the one thing I always needed. Then, time seem to be too limited for almost everything in my life. At that point I thought, "If I only had more time, I would be a better parent, a better teacher, and generally a better person." When others would worry about important matters, I always worried about time. I never liked to be rushed, yet I always felt rushed. Others around me didn't feel the rush to the same degree, so I tried to forge ahead.
Now that I am retired, I have time-- time to think, to relax, to do most anything. Now, I don't worry much about time, but my worries have shifted to other matters. Now, I realize an entirely different set of concerns governs those who have enough time on their hands. The reality of my situation has become apparent to me: time is now my best resource. By that, I mean I own the time to spend or spare as I please. My biggest enemy had been subdued.
If you have never experienced this "time rich" position, let me tell you a little about it. Now, with plentiful time, I find myself communicating much more on a personal level. For example, "How are you?" can become a conversation instead of a pleasantry. I don't feel guilty about spending the time talking with others about simply anything. In fact, I don't feel guilty about wasting some time on fairly trivial matters.
Also writing has returned to my life since I now have the time to compose. I can write about subjects that interest me instead of writing about forced subjects. Since writing is no longer part of my work, I enjoy doing it again. And, I don't have to worry about injecting foreign attitudes into my writing to satisfy an employer or to appease an unfamiliar audience. I can write at ease.
I think my powers of observation have improved too. I can move, see, think, feel, and hear more of my environment in my slow-paced world. I am making more of a conscientious effort to experience the little things around me. At one point, I thought retirement would be the time for travel and for indulgence in more expensive pleasures, but now I am content to be more of a homebody while spending little. Simple pleasures are my staple.
The attractions of my world have changed. A laugh, a song, a drink, a friend, and a meal have taken on more significance in my life. Realizing that I have limited resources has become somewhat of a comfort in that it forces me to limit my appetite for silly desires. I often wonder if people need the extra comforts to be happy. I sincerely think that I don't.
Maybe, if anything has remained constant for me, even in my "time richness," it is that I operate most happily when I am not forced or pushed to the brink of stress. At most points in my life, I have not performed my best when overly stressed. Although I have developed some good defenses to counter these stresses, I can still feel their effects when crammed full of them.
So, having more time has relieved me of most stressful situations of my past, but I now have to realize that certain stresses can never be avoided. With increased time, I am able to be relaxed and to deal logically with many of these new obstacles. For me, time has become an ally. I realize a slow pace can be a reality, one that needs to be taken by some. I have begun to count myself among the some.
In closing, I have also come to believe that those who suffer the pressures of time should begin to lessen them as soon as possible. I don't mean folding up shop and becoming a beach bum. I do mean changing schedules when necessary and letting the steam off before anxiety develops into something far more serious. The best people perform most efficiently in their own comfortable environments, and we are all different. It is just hard for some of us to maintain proper balance in the ever-increasing pace of the world today.
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