Time and Roses

When the hell did we get so busy? By “we” I mean Americans who live in or near large cities, who have jobs with often unrealistic time expectations and who have long commutes on crowded highways.

I took this one day this week but it's typical of nearly every day.

I hate to whine, but at present, my life is like the ball in a pinball machine, bouncing off several walls, bumpers and paddles, scoring points along the way but enduring the bumping around just to stay in the game. I love my job but I hate having so much quantity on my list that I don’t have the time to do everything with the very best quality I’m capable of. I love to drive cars but I hate my commute; I can actually feel my stress level rise every morning as my garage door is rising before I’ve even begun my fifty-to-ninety minute ride to work.

This is on my mind today because I love movies and just saw one on TV. I could see a movie in a cinema every day, but I haven’t seen one in that setting since the advance screening of Da Vinci Code. How many years ago is that? Now I only have time to see parts of movies on television. The last half of 3:10 To Yuma is pretty good. I wanted to see the whole thing on the big screen when it came out a year or two ago, but I had to settle for seeing part of it while eating breakfast this morning.

One way to address the time dilemma is to prioritize our lives. If we accept that there is not enough time to do everything, we can choose those things that are most important to us and spend more of our time on those activities. Nice idea, but who has the time for that?

I’m usually an optimist and so I’m writing this post to remind myself that I usually work my way out of these negative cyclones. Around this time last year I started focusing on making time to play. It seemed like baby steps at first, but as I look back over twelve months, I actually succeeded quite well. I saw numerous concerts, rekindled my interest in live music in small venues, went to an NFL game, started watching NASCAR, college football and NFL games on TV. And I blog.

The real turning point last year was my road trip. Driving 3000 miles instead of flying forced a much slower pace. The few traffic jams I encountered didn’t bother me. I spent quality time with very special friends and family members in North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana and kept my time-specific scheduling to a minimum. In fact, I took my watch off at the first gasoline stop and didn’t wear it again till a month after I returned home.

This week I find myself in the middle of another time cyclone and I’m determined to find solutions to the problem. I won’t be taking a travel vacation till at least December, but a friend is visiting my neck of the woods this summer and I’ll be able to spend at least part of her vacay playing tour guide. I’ll try not to over-schedule; sharing wine, conversation and a concert will be the best parts. If the December trip happens as planned, it will also involve under-scheduled quality time with selected friends and family folks; wine and conversation will be somewhere in the mix.

Our lives get more hectic every year but human brains and emotions can probably adjust … IF we try to balance our time with activities we can savor and share. There is a lot to be said for those old words of wisdom: stop and smell the roses.