Priceless time: how do you spend it?

Time. You never seem to have enough of it yet there’s so much you’d like to be doing with it. We each get the same number of hours in a day, but some people use their time more efficiently. Think of how many hours in your day you spend on pastimes you enjoy. Reflecting honestly on this may lead you to create a more satisfying life for yourself.

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Stillness versus haste

I get it. Life is busy. It’s filled with obligations and responsibilities that keep you away from realising your imagination’s desire. You can continue adding to your library of excuses or you can consider for a moment that your busy day might just contain things that you can say ‘no’ to, or things that you can completely cut out from your life to create space for more fulfilling endeavours.

Conscientious people often put themselves last and neglect their self care, but in the words of author Elizabeth Gilbert “maintenance is as important as action.”

We live in a world that values productivity and as a result there are many hurried people busying themselves every day. They go about life manically and lose themselves in a series of meetings, emails, and texts. They forget to feed their souls. They forget to feed themselves. This can only lead to burnout, not just of the physical body, but also of the mind.

Take your cue from nature and listen to the breeze. Breathe in deeply and be silent. Manage some of your daily battles by evoking your inner calm and embracing stillness. Author Paulo Coelho believes that silence precedes important battles, he writes “the warrior listens intently to that silence; somewhere something is happening. He knows that devastating earthquakes arrive without warning. He has walked through forests at night and knows that it is precisely when the animals are silent that danger is near.”

Pace yourself

Your tempo doesn’t have to be dictated by that of others. If you look upon other people’s fortunes and ask yourself why is it their time and not mine, then you’re probably asking the wrong questions. Your time is entirely yours to do with what you may.

You ask yourself where on earth am I going to find time to practise my guitar, write a story, or paint? Better still, when will inspiration actually strike me? Perhaps it already has. Perhaps you were too busy not listening when inspiration came knocking on your door. Consider whether or not your busy day is truly serving you. Are you fulfilled?

I’m sure that as you tick off tasks on your to-do lists you’re feeling productive, but are you feeling creative or inventive? From my own experience momentum is motivating while tedium tests us.

Clear space

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert personifies inspiration. She believes that ideas are living organisms that visit potential creative collaborators. Admittedly, I share this perspective as I recount the initial moment of inspiration that spurred on many of my creative processes. I can appreciate that to many logical minds this take on creativity is insufficient, but Gilbert responds in kind and in doing so rekindles my imagination and openness to the joy of creation. She explains:

“I don’t demand a translation of the unknown. I don’t need to understand what it all means, or where ideas are originally conceived, or why creativity plays out as unpredictably as it does. I don’t need to know why we are sometimes able to converse freely with inspiration, when at other times we labour hard in solitude and come up with nothing. I don’t need to know why an idea visited you today and not me. Or why it visited us both. Or why it abandoned us both. None of us can know such things, for these are among the great enigmas. All I know for certain is that this is how I want to spend my life – collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand. It’s a strange line of work, admittedly. I cannot think of a better way to pass my days.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert

Every day magic surrounds you.

Be silent, clear space, and listen.

[First published on The Serenade Files 21 September 2020.]

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