Start. Wasting. Time.

Our vital responsibility to redefine work and un-structure our time.

Posted Mar 08, 2019

I write this on a Friday afternoon. Perhaps it's the start of your weekend, as it is mine. Maybe you're watching the clock until you can leave work. Indeed, this is a time when many of us think about time. And to top it off and mess with our time a bit more, this weekend is daylight saving time.

Do you get real rest on the weekend? Or are weekends merely a contortion of work—employment to to-do list?

One of the kindest gifts we can give one another, and ourselves, is the freedom of free time. Unrestrained, unmonitored, guilt-free, time. Time to get full and deep sleep, to wake slowly to our natural rhythm, to cozy under the covers and listen to the sounds our home makes, and then the birds, and then the trees. To prepare nourishing food and chew it and taste it. To feel individual droplets of water as we shower and then let our hair air-dry in the sun as we step outside to do absolutely nothing. To be pointless, and playful, and youthful. And to accept that everything else that we're not doing in that moment is going to be okay if it waits a few moments more.

It is our responsibility to occasionally gift ourselves with time, just as it is to accept it when it's being offered. However sweet the gesture to structure someone's weekend with fun and romance—a date night or breakfast in bed—that's still a structure of time that requires our attendance, participation, and intentional response. Gestures project onto someone else how we feel they should enjoy their time. We've therefore created for them, with the best of intentions, more obligations. Those gestures are wonderful and sweet and enrich our relationships. Do those often. But those expenditures of time cannot be structured without some element of uninvited stimulation, concern, or disappointment: traffic jams, money spending, noise, fretting about our appearance, putting on a smile, worrying how the other person feels, or complaining to the waiter about the hair in our spaghetti. So when I talk about giving the gift of time, I'm not talking about date nights or Disney vacations. I'm talking about pure, unfettered, unstructured, being-present-in-the-moment, alone, time.

Being receivers of the gift of time can be more difficult than offering it. We might react with disbelief or refusal. There must be a catch. What do you want in return? What should I offer in return? What a waste of... time! And watch out for the sneaky masqueraders who hijack our free time with excuses: "I actually feel better when I'm accomplishing items on my to-do list" or "I hate when it's too quiet" or "Easy for him to say, he doesn't live in the real world" or "I fail so hard at [meditating][mindfulness][stillness]" or "This is unrealistic, fluffy, feel-good, new-age, nonsense" or "I have to keep busy or I'll go crazy".

Sorry. Nope. None of our excuses, however valid, make us unique to the necessity of free time. We go "crazy" when we don't get enough rest or time. When our energies are constantly being expended upon external sources that consume instead of fulfill. We lose our balance when we don't free up our brain from the constant barrage of decision-making, judgment, labeling, and mind chatter that follow us every single moment of our busy lives. Free time is when the physical and psychological structures of our body repair and rejuvenate. The best of our excuses will not override those physiological requirements.

Imagine the Monday commute if we all wasted some time this weekend. Imagine all the smiling, waving, laughing, patience, politeness, silliness, compassion, generosity, love, peace.

If we each took more responsibility to be less responsible with our time.