Time plays a major role in my life. Being a runner, with almost two decades’ worth of performances measured by large, bright, relentlessly ticking clocks, I guess that’s no surprise. Working in the field I do, where the rallying cry is “Get this done ASAP!” all day long, I guess it’s really no surprise. Time has become my constant companion, to the point where, if I’m not in a room with some sort of timepiece present, I get a teensy bit uncomfortable.
I know. Even as I write this, I’m cringing.
For me, the sure sign of a successful vacation, weekend, or random day off is if I lose track of what time it is. That means I’m relaxed. That means I’m focusing more on what I’m doing, and who I’m doing it with, then whether it’s being done in a timely manner, or what else I can accomplish in the day’s remaining hours.
It usually takes me a couple of days to reach that state. I like to think this is perfectly normal. I compare it to running intervals – if I were doing mile repeats, or a hill workout, it would be near impossible to instantaneously go from an all-out effort, with arms pumping and heart hammering, to a serene, peaceful standstill. Usually there’s a cool-down period. Maybe some ragged breathing, maybe a staggering shuffle. But instantaneous change? If anyone out there is able to pull that off, you have my admiration!
My point is, it takes time for me to unwind. But it happens. At some point, my eyes no longer fly straight to the clock when I walk into a room. Mealtimes resemble mealtimes instead of just efficient consumption of food. I become much less concerned about how long my runs take. I don’t feel a pressing urge to hurry through post-run stretches, strength exercises, and my shower in order to do whatever else needs to be done that day. In fact, the phrase “needs to be done” starts getting called more and more into question.
Similar to finishing the last interval of a hard workout, or crossing the last item off of my “Christmas gifts to buy” list, the realization that I’ve finally achieved that elusive state of relaxation is one marvelous feeling. It doesn’t matter if I limp into it, or cruise into it, or blink and find that it has taken me by surprise. I’ve let time go, and that’s all that matters.
Everyone says (myself included) that now is the time of year to slow down. Sit still. Stop and smell the Christmas trees. But as we’re surrounded by countdowns (less than a week till Christmas! Less time than that to mail packages!); the hurry-delay-hurry-reschedule-hurry of travel; and all the last-minute stress that invariably pops up, slowing down is a lot easier said than done.
Is it me, or has the well-intentioned counsel to “slow down” become just another source of holiday pressure?
Both speeding up and slowing down imply measurement of time. I say, stop worrying about pace. Fast, slow – does it matter? Less measuring, more treasuring. Let’s focus on what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with, and just let time go.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday! I’ll see you in 2015!