Time: everywhere and nowhere

“Aimlessness, nonattainment, is a wonderful practice.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk  

I am a schedule person. A list maker. A person who wants to know the plan as opposed to being surprised. I understand that in life there are many things out of my control, and so I try to take control with schedules and lists. I’m borderline OCD about it. I have a main to-do list, a weekly to-do list, and a daily to-do list. I spend hours creating schedules for my life, trying to figure out how to fit everything in, and what I should prioritize. I’m also obsessed with time on many levels, and am pretty good at estimating how long tasks take. 

Because I am good at budgeting time, my schedule works. I can accomplish what is on my to-do list for the day, along with the typical daily tasks. If I stick to it. Of course this doesn’t always happen, because I am human and some days I’m tired. Or life is life and something else comes up. But these days I’ve felt so controlled by the schedule it gives me anxiety. I know I need to get a certain amount of things done that day, making progress towards various goals, and in order to do so I have to strictly abide by it. 

And lately, there are days I long for aimlessness. To be able to say to hell with everything else, and do what I want. I desire a stretch of time with nothing to do except whatever I feel like. Perhaps I’ll take a walk, pet my cats, do a puzzle, read a book, or write all day. I know I am currently wound tight due to this, and this imbalance in my life is wreaking havoc on my soul—the free spirited artist’s soul buried away somewhere, struggling for air. 

Throughout my child and teen years I had plenty of free time, as most of us do. I read all the time, and wrote prolifically. I made lists, but I didn’t fill up my free time with a schedule. I got off school, maybe worked, and then did whatever I wanted (to a point, I did have parents). 

When I was in my early 20s and had the weekend off work, I would take down all the clocks and put them away. This was before we had phones and computers and tvs to constantly remind us of the time. And I felt a sense of freedom. I went to bed when I was tired and got up when I was rested. I didn’t feel the pressure clocks create to get certain things done by a specific time. 

Even after having kids I would get week long breaks once a year. Either my mom took them for a week in the summer, or the oldest went to see his dad and the youngest went with his dad trucking. It was summer, and I didn’t work or have kids. It gave me plenty of time to be free to do what I wanted. 

Those breaks have disappeared over the last few years. As life changed they just weren’t possible anymore. And of course I love my children to pieces and would die for them, but as all you parents know, we need time for ourselves too. (They’ve interrupted me about 4 times in the last half hour, once screaming for help due to a bloody nose). 

And while I get an hour here and there, maybe two, it hasn’t been enough. I crave time where I can drift through the day like a rudderless boat with no plan or purpose. That’s what I love about the quotes from Rumi and Dickinson in this post. I need time to see what flows to me, and to discover myself again.

Are you a person who likes a plan or do you enjoy surprises? How do you find time to be aimless? Drop a comment and let me know. 

Happy April Dreamers! ☔️🪴

I notice the words “free” and “time” seem to occur often in this post. Maybe a sign for me? I’ll have to hold tight and wait. Meanwhile, a few random images…

6 thoughts on “Time: everywhere and nowhere

  1. I love this. How do we know when to forge on and when to feed the soul. Sounds like you’ll have to listen closely to know which way to turn. Balance, you’ve got that right!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Regarding your feeling controlled by the schedule to the point where it’s giving you anxiety: I’ve experienced that too. I think that maybe a source of relief that can help minimize that anxiety or help take some pressure off is to remember that a schedule (having the potential to cause people to get ahead of themselves) would not exist without a person or the people who make that schedule happen. We have that leverage to say no to it, we have that power to first take care of ourselves so that we can do what is planned and unplanned. For your 1st question, I like a plan and I enjoy surprises. I often feel like a tightrope walker, so I find balance with both of these. For your 2nd question, in my experience, aimlessness tends to find me after I’ve focused so much and planned (maybe too much) and gave all my energy to accomplish something that felt very challenging, important, and exhausting and then after i have to nap/collapse from all that focusing and planning and working. This is reminding me of Newton’s Third Law (the one about forces that balance each other out).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So glad to hear I’m not the only one who experiences the pressure. You are right—learning to say no is within our power. Now if I can just learn to say no to myself! And I guess I’ve probably had more bad surprises than good; perhaps it’s why I prefer plans. I’m hoping if you like them, that means you’ve had lots of good surprises in your life! It sounds like you work hard and put in your all, and I really admire that. You are the people who get things done at the cost of your own sanity, lol. Thank you once again for such a thoughtful comment Z.T.! And the mention of Newton’s Third Law brings me back to helping my son with homework. Physics is NOT my thing. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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