How does it feel with your god strapped to your wrist, and him leading you such a chase?”- Roy Harper
I write today as a woman who is in a deep, deep struggle. I have, against all I wanted to do, overcommitted myself. Pick your metaphor: juggling balls, spinning plates, whacking moles, I am frantically doing all of those.
I know I am not alone in this phenomenon. When I was a high school teacher, I observed students cracking under the weight of homework, practices, and jobs. When my husband was a youth minister the calendar was so packed with skate nights and service projects there was barely time for quality fellowship with others. Not for him, not for the kids. I still see exhausted parents next to me at the red light, in the throes of carting their kids to extracurriculars, children wolfing down their dinner while strapped into their booster car seats; millennials are spinning like dervishes moving from job to job to job, staying awake through sheer force of will and way too much latte. Authenticity and presence are replaced with hectic hustling.
I had somehow anticipated that this new phase, the empty nest, would be slower. That I would have more time for sitting on the back patio sipping chenin blanc while reading contemplative memoirs. Nope. Not a bit.
We’re all just buzzing around, frantic like the violins in “The Flight of the Bumblebee.”
Interesting, well-composed music has a variety of tempos, of rhythms. Fast, slow, and everything in between. Think of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony:
Da da da duh, da da da duh, da da da Daaaaaa!
Slow. Then quick.
The well-lived life has a variety of rhythms as well. But here lately, it seems my life’s tempo is picking up speed and it’s affecting how I feel. My vibration accelerates; my spirit snaps.
Today, I was five minutes late to yoga because I couldn’t find my slip-on sandals, which is a clear indication of how my lack of time is affecting me. I put things away, pretty much always, and so to not know where something is signals trouble. When I opened the door to the yoga studio, a dozen hopeful faces looked at me, the instructor was late as well; he was a substitute who had gotten his times mixed up. By an hour. Once he arrived, I committed to the entire hour-long practice, knowing it would set me behind for the day. I disciplined myself to stay for the meditation at the end of class, but my zen was interrupted when the teacher of the next class let our instructor have it for his tardiness.
It’s not that time doesn’t matter. We need specific times to start classes, open stores, and see our doctors, else we’d all just be wandering around aimlessly or waiting for others to arrive. And yet…
is there a way that is better than being enslaved to a schedule?
Since my daughter’s family has moved in with us, I have had the joy of spending time with my six-month-old granddaughter. Bless her, Hazel has no concept of the passage of time. She plays, sleeps, eats, and cuddles as her little heart commands. The ticking of the seconds means nothing to her. Author Carol S. Wimmer describes it this way:
“Babies live in divine time, but their parents live in temporal time … Grown-ups have this 24-hour clock in their heads that ticks out chunks of time, rings alarms, and establishes calendars… Little kids don’t know anything about clocks…As people grow old[er], they wish they could get rid of the clock. Old[er] people look forward to living in Divine time.”
I need some Divine time.
When I committed to so much, I attempted to create a schedule for each day so that I would maintain maximum productivity. It’s hanging on the wall of my home office and breaks the day down into specific increments. I hate it. It reminds me of my years as a teacher, my days divided into chunks that were announced by bells and enforced by tardy bells. I don’t want to live with my cell phone alarm sounding every hour to remind me of my next task. I want to live in Divine time. My soul needs time to write when it feels called, my brain needs the freedom to approach organizational tasks when it is sharp, and my heart needs client relationship building when it’s open and receptive. Those things cannot be dictated by an alarm.
On my way home from yoga, with my Disney playlist singing my way, this gorgeous lyric from Mary Poppins touched my heart as I drove just a little over the speed limit:
“You’ve got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone, though childhood slips like sand through a sieve…”
It’s not just childhood, though. With each passing day, I realize that life itself slips through our fingers, unwinding in a long spool of meetings and obligations. Without enough stillness; enough Divine time.
Though I have no clear plan of action, I do know that I will be trashing the giant grid of time chunks. To-do lists will remain, but they’re going to require flexibility and grace. There may not be enough hours in the day to do every little thing. But I am going to move my spirit toward Divinity: walks and words, conversations and calculations, spreadsheets and savasanas. All synchronized to the needs of my soul. I mean to work with intention.
I still haven’t found my slip-on sandals. But I do think I am beginning to find my rhythm.