Busy, busy, busy…
The world seems so busy these days… don’t you think? We all rush from here to there, from there to here, working, striving, rushing…trying to reach that place where everything will be alright… We are like worker bees, relentlessly searching for the perfect source of nectar. So many of us, even in our off time, sit glued to our phones, our tablets, eyes flitting from one post to the next, lost in a world of our own. Sometimes, even though we are bombarded with the activities of others, our “friends”, the world can feel like a very lonely place. How many of us sit in a room, with our loved ones, not communicating, just in a trance of technology?
Maybe I’m wrong… It could be that its just me who feels they are following one long non-ending list of “Things to Do”. But I don’t think I am completely mistaken… Talking to people, its fascinating to hear just how many people feel stressed, busy and, ultimately…alone. When you spend your whole time, head down, focused on what needs doing, what needs achieving, it can feel like a lonely stressful world. It can feel like time is running away, out of control…that there is never enough.
So What Can You Do?
Is there anything you can do to regain control, to slow life down? Is there any way we can change our perception of the world and regain a life where time rolls by more slowly? I have asked myself this question over the last year or so and have come to a strange conclusion… the more time we give, the more time we have.
What I mean by that can be explained by something that happened to me not long ago…
It was the summer and at the school where I work staff were rushing around like the proverbial blue bottomed flies.. taking down noticeboards, moving files, photocopying… We had lists and we weren’t afraid to use them. I was a woman on a mission, with very little time in which to complete all my tasks. Amongst all this flurry and fluster was Tabitha. Tabitha was 5 and she wanted to read to me. Every now and then she would tug on my sleeve and quietly ask, “Mrs Ariss…can I read to you please?” Once, twice, three times she asked, and each time I smiled and promised that I would definitely read with her…any minute now. I just had a few more jobs to do…
I remember seeing Tabitha watching me from across the room as I carried another box of resources towards our new classroom and I was suddenly hit by a thought…”What on earth am I doing??” Yes, I had an unending list of jobs to do, but for goodness sake… were they really that important? I put the box down and looked over at Tabitha. “Come on hunny bunny…let’s have a read together. D’you fancy that?” Her face lit up and she grabbed her reading book and reading record, nodding as she walked with me out of the classroom.
Instead of sitting in the noisy class we chose a quiet spot in the sunshine, next to an open door that led out to a little courtyard and which, every now and then, allowed a warm breeze to waft over us. I will never forget that half hour in the sunshine, listening to that little girl read. It taught me such a lesson… Because it wasn’t about listening to her read at all. It was about giving her time, my time. In that half hour she told me that she was afraid of moving up to her new class. She told me about her home, her family, her worries, the things she was looking forward to… The book was lovely, but it was a reason for spending time together. We had time to talk, to listen, to understand.
That half hour seemed to stretch into the sunshine and time seemed to slow down. By the end of it Tabitha had shared her worries and seemed so much happier. I had learnt a valuable lesson about what life was really all about. My jobs still got done and the world did not fall down and, in fact, I felt so much calmer, so much more relaxed.
Take Time to Give Time
From that moment I made a promise to give time. I promised that I would be certain of my priorities and take time, each day, to give time. Whether it means stopping to talk to someone, really listen to what they have to say, or reading pages of my book instead of watching tv…I do it. I take the time to give time to that person, give time to myself. By stopping and really being in the moment with a person, really listening or losing myself in the pages of whatever I am reading, time slows down. It might only be for a few minutes, it depends, but it feels longer. I’m not saying that I have everything sussed…I don’t. I am doing the best I can with what I have. Some days I wish I could have done better, but more often than not I can look back and be happy that for at least some part of the day I have taken back time, slowed it down. It makes a difference to how I feel and, to be honest, my jobs still get done. I hope that it makes a difference to the people around me…I certainly enjoy it. We waste so much time on things that just don’t matter that much. Surely, if we all spent a little more time giving each other time, wouldn’t the whole world be a happier place?
*names have been changed for privacy.