Time and Space
The alarm rang at 4:30am, the cat barely opened an eye as I dragged myself out of bed. The day was beginning. Showered, dressed, fed Lucy and in my car by 5:45am so I can beat that traffic to Newark and start my day quietly and alone. By 8am the area surrounding my office was a buzz with people, phones began to ring and meetings began to occur. When I would peruse my calendar at the start of the day I would look for white space, where there was no meeting or phone call that would allow me time to get work done, respond to emails or even just think. There was rarely think time. We would try to space meetings out throughout the day but more often than not, that time would get filled by someone who needed 15 minutes with me, a quick question (there is no such thing!) or something I had to get done such as expense vouchers, etc. Time to think, strategize or create was never abundant during the work day, I think it was expected when you weren’t in the office. Well given my day went to at least 6pm most days and then I needed to drive the 50 miles home which often meant 90 minutes in the car, there wasn’t much think time anywhere. Once home at 7 or 7:30pm, I had enough energy to maybe cook something or maybe dinner was peanut butter and crackers, watch a little TV, read a little or catch up with someone on the phone. There was no real time during the week as I was usually exhausted and needed to be in bed by 10pm in order to start all over again the next morning at 4:30am! If it was a Connecticut day, I was up by 3:45am and drove for over 2 hours to get to my office, again bypassing traffic if possible. Those days went on for a very long time, and I thought they were normal. I thought I was great at multi-tasking and was as creative as I could be. I thought my ideas only came in the wee hours of the morning. I thought this was the way everyone worked and it was the way I would work until I dropped. I can do this. I thought I thrived on the constant movement and the mindset of “I always have to be doing something, have to be productive.” Sitting and thinking was not being productive, or so I thought.
I never had time or space. I was never not working, I was never not running to get something done. My time and space was completely dictated by those around me, those counting on me and of course my career. It was also all I knew, and what I thought I was supposed to be doing.
Once I left corporate this year, I continued with ways to fill my time, had to stay busy and therefore productive. Over some time I began to see that this wasn’t normal, always filling time with stuff to do. We need time and space. We need moments in our day and week and month and year that aren’t filled but instead allow us to dream, think, create and be still. When we are still, we can hear the universe, our guides sending us messages. We can hear our inner voice cheer us on, spark an idea, give us a pep talk or allow us to cry it out. We can hear. We can listen. We begin to “be” instead of “do”.
I have a number of friends who are always doing, always running, always busy. I sometimes wonder what they may be avoiding by always doing. I know I was running. I was running from loneliness, running from deep relationships that scared me, running from myself and my thoughts. I was frightened of being, maybe I wasn’t good enough to be with, maybe that is why my relationships don’t last; I’m not good enough to just be with.
Now that I have had the time to be versus do, now that I have given myself time and space, I am sorry I didn’t do it sooner. The richness of my thoughts, the creative energy I feel and receive, the calm that is now central to my being have all surpassed anything that just doing gave me. All that ever did was occupy time and maybe make me believe I was productive. I am more productive now that I have time and space. I am more productive because it is the things I want to do, not have to do.
Giving yourself permission for time and space is the biggest block I had to this. I thought I had to always be doing. I don’t. I now am great with taking the time and space needed to be creative, be open to messages and to be….not do.
Thanks for sharing this Suzy. Very interesting perspective.