Making time for what’s important in life
This morning I woke up at 4:18. The second morning in a row. Yesterday I couldn’t quite figure out why and went straight back to sleep. Forced myself actually. I took two tablets and nodded off to sleep. Not because I’m a pill popping nut. Which I may or may not be. I am sickish, so thankfully I had a reason to gobble down those pills.
I hardly ever forget important things.
This morning however something woke me up. A voice. Panic rose up as I listened to the voice reminding me of pivotal information I had forgotten to give someone last week. She had to attend a workshop this morning and I completely forgot to inform her. Can you imagine all the kinds of crap I was feeling? Praying she was home and counting down the minutes to a decent time I could call her in order for her to make it on time. Thinking about all that could go wrong and how upset she would be with me. My mind worked overtime. Shite!
In this muddled state I wondered how I could forget. How. The. Freaking. Hell! It could be the school holidays, Easter weekend, being sick, reading four brilliant novels (totally different genres) in a space of three days… It could be that I have been learning to crochet, making potions and rubs or that I have been trying to figure out what the heck I could name said potions and rubs. My mind has been all over the show. I’ve even started plotting a possible book. One I’ll never allow anyone to read or even publish. The things is I’m always busy. When I’m not busy with my hands I live in my head. Always plotting and planning.
I don’t walk, I half jog. Everything I do is calculated. Into the amount of steps it takes or the minutes it takes doing. Not consciously though. What kind of crazy woman do you take me for? Although I could possibly tell you how many steps it takes from my office to the copy room. Or from home to the corner shop around the corner of my home. Which is not exactly on a corner either. I can give you details. I notice everything. I’m an observer. I can tell you how many workers were sweeping the streets when I went to the shop earlier. Four people per square meter. I can tell you about the couple who walked past me. The woman’s dress, a beautiful chocolate brown printed dress. The man walking proudly next to his wife with the weight of the world resting upon his shoulders. The truck driver carefully assessing my face to see if it matched the behind he saw walking past just a minute ago. Giving me a curt nod when I greeted him. The slow rise of pink making its way from his neck as if I called him out. Then again, damn right I did. It was in the knowing look I gave him when I greeted.
The elderly gentleman who seemed to be semi blind in one eye as he looked down and avoided my eyes as I came closer. A cultural thing. One I do respect but often don’t take into consideration. I need to be able to provide as much detail to the police about an attacker or suspect if I’m ever placed in that situation. Sure, blame my love of crime series and novels. But this is freaking reality. Crime is everywhere. My mind is wired that way. The gentleman posed no threat though. Just trying to make his way to wherever he was going.
My mind needs to know all sorts of details. Possible escape routes. The time it will take and also how I could effectively use my surroundings to my benefit. It’s called Agoraphobia. Fight or flight syndrome. Now you know my dirty little secret. Which is not a secret at all actually. Mental illnesses happens to us all. Some more than others. I live with it and it lives with me. We survive.
So back to this morning… It’s gone five and I’m wondering how to spin this. Obviously I need to tell the truth. Even if it risks me looking incompetent. I could blame it on being sick or some other random thing. Like, I don’t know… Maybe like “I’m sorry I forgot. I’ve been so busy and the long weekend and I’m in holiday mode and and and… Oh and I’m sick.” Then I’m transported to the mall where I did some shopping last Thursday. Getting some last minute items for the weekend and indulging my sweet tooth. Buying ingredients for cakes I never did bake the weekend. Accidentally buying a bottle of Petitgrain essential oil when I already have an unopened bottle. Nearly having a meltdown in a shop because my brain decided to take me for a ride. Fight or flight. It was too hot and I chose the latter. Deciding it’d be far better standing in the slight drizzle and cooling down. Right then I don’t care about getting a cold or the flu either. It doesn’t even cross my mind.
Breath. Just. Effing. Breath. I scold myself. In through your nose and out through your mouth. S-l-o-w-l-y. Repeat. As I calm down I think of my coping mechanisms. My mantras. Not grappling at straws like I sometimes do. Like the weird life hack I remember sometimes. “When you need a pee think about sex.” Which I tried once. Totally ineffective. My bladder wants relief. It needs to be emptied. My bladder doesn’t need sexual gratification.
If I just told you I’m busy, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Or you probably would and not given it much thought at all. But now you know I’m busy. And that’s without throwing my kids and husband into the mix. And work. And other people’s kids. I think you get the point…
So this morning my mind conjures up a memory of last Thursday. I see an old school friend if mine whom I haven’t seen for years and I go up and say “Hi”. I talk for a few minutes (probably three tops) knowing I don’t have time for this chat because I need to get going. A quick catch up session instead of the random Facebook like. I have a few more stops to make and rolls. We need to get rolls. But I stand glued to the spot chatting away and making time instead of an impersonal click in the like box. I make time for this. Like I try to make time for the important things in life.
Not for the first time, the conversation gets cut short by the long lost friend or contact. “I’m in a hurry” they say and it’s followed by rushed goodbyes and we make go our separate ways. I never put any thought into it. I’m always rushing about too so it’s acceptable. But this morning after five am it hits me. While thinking of an excuse to make up for my forgetfulness I ponder on it. It’s surely not worth a ponder but I do it anyway. I still have a good fifty minutes to go before I can actually make the call. Six am is a good time to call isn’t it? My mind drifts.
Thinking of all the “We should get together’s” and the odd comments on a social media post or the random text we sometimes send or receive. But we never get together. We all have our life stuff happening. Marriages, relationships, kids, work and all kind of adult commitments. Before you know you see another R.I.P. post of a school mate who hasn’t lived to see forty. Family members reach their best before dates too and we commit to be better and live better. We make empty promises to appease ourselves that we’ll make time for living and the living. It sometimes lasts longer than a new years resolution, other times it goes up in smoke even before the words leave our mouths.
Why? Because we’re busy. That’s what adults do. We don’t know any better. Not anymore at least.
Do I resent being cut short when I say “Hi” and add a few more words? Nope. I respect that people are busy. I also respect the fact that some people just don’t know what to say. We’re no longer part of each other’s lives and that’s ok. The virtual realm seems more comfortable anyways.
Do I feel like a cow for not attending a social gathering in favour of spending time with myself and my sometimes irrational thoughts. Or spending time with fictional characters instead of people? Not a chance. Because that’s my downtime. The rare occasions that I’m not busy.
What I did come to realize just before six am was that I am probably too busy. In general. At times I don’t have much choice especially when it comes to work or my family. But it’s not like I don’t always have a choice. I had a choice to go visit relatives a few weeks ago and fun was had. My little bubble was put on hold. My books waited. My kids waited. Life didn’t stand still while I wasn’t busy. I forgot to buy rolls while catching up with an old friend and we didn’t die of hunger.
When I’m out and about I notice and observe. I might not always see faces but when I do I may smile in greeting or stop for a quick chat. Although not often, but it is part of me taking out time to see people and not be self absorbed. Did I mention I’m eccentric like that? My self absorption is often accompanied by a resting beach face which I’m told is quite off putting. No wonder people don’t approach me all that often. *note to self: point to ponder some other morning and preferably not before six am.*
While we’re consumed with being busy life passes us by. Opportunities are missed.
Making time for insubstantial conversations with a long lost friend or a random stranger is my way of not being busy. The same way as nurturing plants and liking social media posts. Holding my finger on the icon a while longer and selecting the heart or wow emoji doesn’t steal away from my busy lifestyle either.
Much to my boss’s dismay I often let him wait while I spend time listening to a parent or community member while they voice their concerns. More often than not I provide care and comfort with a listening ear and a few carefully chosen words. The thing I’ve come to realize in life is that we’re never too busy to make time for the important things in life. To me people are important. Every word exchanged and every smile we share means something to someone out there. The nod of understanding, encouragement or approval may just be all someone needs.
At 06:05 this morning I made the call and the young woman I called was wide awake and at home. I presume she probably swore at me while getting ready but she sounded ready for the day and excited as this is a start of a new chapter in her life. From unemployed matriculant to an intern. Exciting times ahead of her. And I’m proud to be making this journey with her. Rocky start and all.
We make time for the important things in life.
You see, well before I woke up at that indecent time of the morning for someone who is on holiday, life had been teaching me the importance of availing myself. Even if it’s just for a moment before I get immersed with my hectic life and trying to stay afloat. Giving of myself in even a little way is what keeps me going. Even if it doesnt mean anything to the next person at a given time. I choose to call it exercise to keep my downtime fit. For the times when I absolutely have to be there for someone. Come hell or high water. Those times when “I’m busy” just wont cut it. It all happens in between my busy moments.
How often do you take out time for a mindless chat or do something that wasn’t on your to-do list?