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.