No Longer a Slave to Time!

I am a slave to time. Many people have calendars and clocks in certain rooms of their house. But I have them everywhere. Yes, I have both a clock and a calendar (printed out and stuck inside the linen cupboard door) in my bathroom! There are even a calendar and a clock in my laundry room! The fact that a phone could easily answer these needs is beside the point. I don’t always have my phone with me, and when I want to check the calendar, I want to do it immediately. 

I have always loved the reliable measuring of time. Whether I was facing the worst day of my life or I was riding a triumphant wave, time marched on. I found it oddly comforting.

The first occasion I realized how focused I was on time was as a young child of about eight on an overseas trip with my parents. I was old enough to tell time from a standard watch, but it was then that I first heard of time zones. 

My parents were planning to phone my older brother, who was back home in South Africa. There was some discussion about what time it was there. I was perplexed. If it was 2pm where I was, then it had to be 2pm everywhere. No one could bend time! Eventually, I was able to understand time-zones, which only added to the allure; every section of the world was divided up into parcels and allocated a time zone. How orderly.

I came from an organized home where things happened like clockwork. Afternoon tea was served at 4pm, dinner was on the table at 6:30pm, on Sundays we left for church at 9:10am, and on Tuesdays for Highland Dancing class at 7:45pm. These time-slots gave each day a unique rhythm. Regardless of what happened in the world, you could bank on certain things happening at certain times.

As I have previously mentioned, I am hyper-organized to the point where I have to watch that I don’t become rigid, inflexible. My love of time management feeds directly into this. Now, when raising a family, this stood me in good stead. Everything ran smoothly, but it never veered into complete inflexibility because children don’t fit neatly into boxes or always comply. A sick child doesn’t care that you had a meeting scheduled at 11am.

But, once my children left, I found myself looping back into my highly structured days. If I had set 4pm as “time to walk the dog,” then come hell or high water, I was walking the dog at 4!

This arranging of time spilled over into everything. The moment we booked a vacation or a major holiday was coming up, I would grab my trusty calendar and work backward to schedule everything: stop the newspaper, update cat’s vaccinations, book hair appointment, book dog-sitter, and so on and so on. Months before the event occurred, I had it all set out. I love nothing more than planning something years out and then back-filling all the necessary steps. 

And then came the pandemic and blurred all the nice little boxes on my calendar.

As all my normal outside-the-house routines were obliterated, days started to blend together. My sharp delineations became fuzzy. Entire days melted together; was it Tuesday or Wednesday?  If I was always at home and able to work at any time, then did it really matter if I walked the dog at 4pm or at noon?

To be honest, I mourned the loss of all these reliable structures but soon found it freeing.

I decided to embrace the fact that time is something I control and not something that controls me. Instead of working out right after my morning chores (because that’s what worked in the Before Times), I found I far preferred to get some work done first and then begin my workout at 10. 

Did I have to go shopping every Tuesday, or could I go on a day that better suited my schedule that particular week?

Whereas before, I swore off working on weekends, I discovered I quite liked putting in a few hours here and there—it wasn’t like we had tons of exciting things to do in the outside world.

Slowly, but surely, the clock and calendar have loosened their grip on me. Just because it’s a weekday doesn’t mean we can’t go out for lunch. And I can stop working at 4pm to sit on the sofa and read. I know I’ll balance it out on the weekend.

A lot of this may be pretty obvious to people who weren’t slaves to time, but it has been liberating for me.

Once we resume our more outward-facing lives, I will challenge myself to remain the boss of time to make sure it works for me and not that I am answerable to it! But, I cannot throw out all the clocks and calendars just yet.

1 Comment on “No Longer a Slave to Time!

  1. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, as always. Time is paradoxical; it can give us a sense of control or it can remind us how little of it we really have. 🤔

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