Saturday, August 18, 2012


I heard it again last week, with just a hint of sanctimony:  "If something is really important to you, you'll make time for it."  I had such a strong negative reaction to it that I had to wonder what that was all about.  Of course, I've heard it all my life.  "We make time for what we really value" and all the corollaries.

So I want to ask you:  Do you believe that's really true?

I'm not sure whether to start with all my disclaimers or to save them for the end.  I guess we should just get them out of the way.  Yes, I believe in setting priorities.  Yes, I can waste time with the best of them.  No, I don't always make time for what is most important to me.  No, I don't believe we should live from a place of scarcity.  Yes, I believe that how I structure my time is a good indicator of what I value.

Still.  I can't even imagine having time for everything that is truly important to me.  Even if I quit my job (which, actually, I value a great deal), I wouldn't have time for all the people I love.  See, for me it's not a matter of having time for all the tasks.  It's a matter of having time for all the people.  To really love them well, to give of myself the way I want to, to receive love from them in deep and meaningful ways . . . well,  I'm almost fifty now and I'm aware every single day that there just isn't going to be enough time.

When I expressed that fear to my friend Shawn years ago, she smiled serenely and said, "Well, that's what heaven is for."  Shawn is one of the most relational people I know and also one of the most serene, so I guess she's on to something.  But I'm greedy.  I want it all now.

I know that this reality (yes, I believe it's a reality) causes pain for people in my life.  They experience me as warm and caring and move toward me and then feel hurt when I don't have room in my life for the kind of friendship they have in mind.  Often, I also really like them and want to know them better  and know that my life would be better for it but . . . well, it just isn't possible, not because I don't care about them and not because I don't think they are important but just because it's not possible.

It also causes pain for the people I treasure--my friends and family who love me and who never get enough of me and I never get enough of them.  Sometimes, that's because I've lost track of what's most important and like the saying says, I don't make time for those I really care about.  I watch TV instead of picking up the phone.  I schedule a day at home instead of a day visiting family or friends.  So at those times, I guess the saying is true.  But there are so many other times . . .

This is not to even mention all the people whose lives I want to intersect--people who aren't like me, people who don't live in my world, people who may not even live in my country, people I will never get to know.  At the risk of sounding whiny, I think about those people a lot and wish things were different.  

I want to do a better job of managing time.  That goes without saying.  But no.  I don't think it's true that I can make time for everything I think is important.  And I really hope Shawn is right.

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