When isn’t time an issue in our lives? Maybe when we were young enough we thought of time in much simpler terms. There were morning and night; active time, sleeping time and eating time; school time and play time; family time and friend time. It seems like decades ago when we were growing up many of us had the experience of time as fluid and unbroken by too many time-bound commitments. Now even many children feel time as pressure as they are shuttled from school to athletic practices, participate in extracurricular classes of every kind and maintain busy social calendars with their peers. The adult experience of “not enough time” has even become a problem for our children and certainly for us as adults.
In the past, older adults got to return to a sense of fluidity and less structured time. Time seemed to become more plentiful and, if anything, many retired and older people felt that they had too much time on their hands and wondered what to do with themselves. This is still the experience of many people as they age. But at this time in our culture and history, many of us never get to have the experience of transitioning back to a more expansive sense of time. For many people, this is a good thing. Being busy with personal art and hobbies, extended family, yoga and healthful cooking classes, bus trips to plays and casinos—all of this mitigates the boredom that might occur as we age. Still, how much do our busy older lives contribute to our life quality and sense of self and when does all this busyness detract from our lives and our sense of who we are?
Sometimes the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the gift of unstructured time. While we may have forgotten the joys of having expanses of time that are not filled with continuous activity and commitments, it isn’t too late to discover the pleasure of our own company and leisurely time with our partners and friends. It may require some relearning to become comfortable with unstructured time, especially time alone, but there is a great deal of good that can come about as a result of a less pressured time schedule, not the least of which is peace of mind and relaxation of our bodies.
1) How satisfied are you with the division of time in your life today between busy scheduled time and unstructured expansive time? In what direction would you want that to change?
2) Has your experience of time changed as you have become older? How?
3) What do you most value doing with your time on a day-to-day basis?
4) How do the various styles of managing time interface with your goals and the desires that make up your bucket list?
5) What are your most pressing questions or issues about time these days and what are you doing to address these issues?
6) What factors most strongly affect your sense of having enough time or not having enough time? Which of these are within your power to alter?