Published July 10th, 2015
I realize I let one rip last week here on the blog.
"Remember, we do have the ability to create time, rather than be ruled by it."
And then, quietly, I snuck away. Maybe it was all the fireworks in the air, exploding out of seemingly nowhere and then fizzling out.
I'm sorry; I owe you all an explanation, and some clarity on this truly powerful idea. An idea that needs to spread, fast.
What strikes me almost daily is the sheer number of people telling me they don't "have" time: time to exercise, time to cook, time to meditate, time to call their mother, time to take a walk in nature, time to sleep, time to sit down and eat a meal. Now, people, especially in the States, have been complaining about not having time for over a decade, but now, it seems to be an epidemic. As if the 24-hour day has gotten shorter. What always strikes me when I move back and forth between Africa and the States is the feeling I get that strangely, the days in Africa, especially in Maasailand, feel longer. When I reflect on my days before I go to sleep at night, I somehow feel more accomplished, more fulfilled in Tanzania; which is odd, given how difficult it usually is to get things done there.
What I realize now is that when I live closer to nature's rhythms plus inside of a culture that has collectively shared daily rituals, I don't have to waste time and energy structuring things that are already there. Activities that are shared, full of meaning, and full of satisfaction. Things like talking over morning chai (tea or coffee), lunches and/or dinners, watching the sun set and closing the day with storytelling and sharing. These are pillars of life that create frames around everything else. Knowing the frames are there, gives you freedom to create inside the spaces. Like the Pergola - the vines are free to grow in between and around the frame. This is what I mean about creating time rather than being ruled by it. You hold in your awareness and honour the rituals and pillars of the day, while working and creating activities in the picture inside the frame that fit your priorities and passions.
Let me bring this more down to earth…
If you make a commitment to eat lunch everyday at 1pm, then you have to hold yourself to completing what you need to finish before that time. No excuses. Yes, it is easier if, like in some European countries, there is no option, the office closes for lunch. What concerns me most at this point in human history, is the accepted work culture where people work through lunch and stay in their offices after the time their original contract said they were committed to working until. It is the culture of today's professional working environment to ignore, in fact, disrespect, daily rituals and behaviours that have been in place for centuries that honour and nourish people's health, minds, family relationships and, ultimately, their souls.
What can we do to change things? How do you begin to shift an entire culture?
Well, some companies changed things around in a positive direction when they moved to project-based goals instead of time spent at one's desk. As long as a project was completed by the time agreed upon, it didn't matter where and when the employee did his or her work. However, this style of work only works for some businesses. For those of us who work in a less project-centered orientation and are not led by a leader who embraces work-life balance ideas, it really is up to us, as individuals, to take a stand and start the shift. You know, like a candle that uses its flame to light up many others around it.
Now, when you tell your colleagues, boss and whoever else you need to inform, that you are heading out for your lunch break, and / or leaving at 5pm so you can get to your yoga class or soccer game on time, you use language that is kind, clear and coming from a place of confidence in knowing what you need to stay healthy and strong. Do not use language that is threatening, labelling you as a victim of the unhealthy culture. For example, notice the difference between these two statements:
"I feel overworked and unappreciated and need to go. I'm leaving for the day."
"I feel tired and tapped-out and know that if I go now and take care of myself, I'll feel better."
It's got to start somewhere. Give it a try.
This is just one example of creating time, rather than being ruled by it.
Notice that I am not talking about creating time like making an app that slows down the clock on your phone. I'm talking about creating time, the time of your life.
Does that make sense?