On Sodom Pond

Postcards from rural Vermont

Taking back time

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I have been on sabbatical for these past four months, which means I have been able to organize my days pretty much as I want. There are of course chores and errands, family, community, and a project I am supposed to be working on, but I have, for the most part, started my day in bed reading and thinking without the crunch of the clock.

A friend was recently bemoaning the lack of this. She couldn’t find time to do all the personal work she wanted to before going to her nine to five job. For my friend these means a variety of spiritual, even mystical, pursuits. For another friend who started a new job this week, it’s writing and working out.

Where can we find the time?

This week I traveled to Boston to give a talk. Though the trip had nothing to do with my job in Boston I was surprised at how ruffled up I got over going down to the city. It was an inconvenience! And it made me think sooner than I wanted to about the end of my sabbatical and my free mornings.

But I wonder: if we believe that we create our reality with what we think, then abundance is a frame of mind. I would be able to shift into an expansive mindset even if I have only fifteen minutes of preparing for my day. If we expand ourselves when time shrinks, we can feel at ease. And so on.

And while I believe and practice these things, I can’t help but wonder if the frustration of not having enough morning time (or any time) is that we don’t want to be limited. To know that I have only so much time in a day. That every choice I make matters.

When I go back to work, I’ll only be able to do a few things on a workday besides my job. (Couple this with the life of a struggling artist of any kind who must practice their craft while they are earning a living, and you have even a less fortunate equation of free time; though, for the working artist, I suspect, time with their art is free time, joyful work, etc.)

People are oppressed by time these days. They claim they are too busy. Too busy to meet, to go to that show, to write that book, and on and on. Overwhelm is temptation. You don’t have to take responsibility for time, to feel the disappointment at how limited it is. How, as humans, we are limited beings.

This morning I had an idea and said to myself, “Gee, that would make a fun podcast,” and then I thought about all the podcasts out there, and how the work would soon become how to get that podcast heard in the floating seas of thousands of podcasts out there, and I felt exhausted.

I feel this often—that the promotion of the thing has become the thing. The platform, the image, the selling of it. Everyone’s a venture capitalist. Or something like that.

Being heard by “the world” hardly feels worth it. The solution, of course, is to go local. Community. Real people. Real time.

A local writing workshop planned with my friend will reach just a few compared to “the world.” That kind of limitation can feel brutal. Do I want to work and be known in such small circles? Well, if that means I can be known, then the answer has to be yes. If that means that the joy can come from the planning and execution of the workshop—from the doing—and not with promoting the idea of something, then yes. I take smallness.

My greatest desire is to be part of a scene. To be with people who are game.

I envy all those digital go-getters, though. FOMO is real. But so is the Jamaican lunch I will be having with my friend at the cooperative-run chocolate & coffee shop in town today, and the excitement of sharing ideas and good food. We are sure to laugh, to imagine, to rejoice in the space with the sofas and chocolate samples and movie playing on the wall and all the other Rabble Rousers in view.

It will be few good hours spent. I can’t ask for more than that.

(the picture is my room at Esalen, where I am not now but was in 2011.)


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