This letter is in response to an article printed in the last edition of The Waynedale News. The title of the article was, “Breaking Old Habits in 2008.” The article is about a book called How To Manage your Time. The author states that time management is one of the best avenues to take on the road to success. He says, “Remember, wasting time means wasting life, so learn to manage your time and not let it slip away from you.”
I would like to ask the author how he would define the word success, and what he means by “wasting time.” My definition of these terms has changed as I struggle to break free of the structured efficient life that I once lived. The author’s words stirred me to write about my own experience.
My first 50 years of life were lived like most Americans. Very busy. I would start each day with my to-do list which was very long and most times, impossible to accomplish. I worked 10 hour days and juggled the household chores along with taking care of the kids. I was self-employed, and I drove myself harder than any boss should. I would not take breaks and I would eat lunch as quickly as possible without enjoying a single bite. The weekends were filled with different activities, but were accomplished at the same pace. At night I had trouble sleeping because I could not shut off the spinning in my head. I was as efficient as a well oiled machine, but that efficiency was used to pack even more activities into my already busy day. It was like I was caught in a tornado, and the world was spinning so fast that I couldn’t see what was really important in my life.
I always thought that when the kids were grown and out of the house my life would slow down a little. But I discovered that when that day came, my days were just as busy as before. After much thought I had to admit that the busyness in my life was not the result of others, but was fulfilling a need inside of me. I had judged my own self worth by the number of accomplishments I could achieve each day. Where did this idea come from? The important question to ask was, do I want to continue to judge my life in this way? The answer was No! I knew that if I really wanted to step out of the tornado, I had to make some changes.
Willingness and a desire for change was the first step, and soon others came. I was introduced to the practice of meditation and I began to see my life with new eyes. I came to enjoy my quiet time of stillness and longed for more. As meditation time expanded, things that I once thought were important began to drop away.
I am delighted with the changes that have occurred in my life. I still work, but at a pace that is much kinder. I take breaks and long lunches because now I realize that break time is as important as work. I never pass up an opportunity to stop and talk to a friend, or take a walk in the sunshine. I have found that meditation helped in this process of transformation and I saw a new truth emerge from the darkness. What I once viewed as my true self was merely a portrait of the person that I thought I should be. The true self lies far beneath the varnish and paint. It is in the pure white canvas that reflects the true loving light of God. This light is at the core of each of us if we are willing to strip off the paint, one layer at a time.
At church on Sunday, a friend said, “God loves a slacker just as much as he loves an over achiever.” This statement got a big laugh, and is no doubt true. I don’t think God measures our worth by the same yard stick that we use. It is us who judge ourselves and others in this harsh manner.
There are exactly 24 hours in each day in this physical universe, and managing it won’t add or subtract a single second. It’s up to each individual to decide how that time should be spent. So, if you are looking for ways to break old habits in 2008, try making some changes. If you feel like your are trapped inside a tornado, try stepping into the light of a new day. And remember, your time can never be wasted by doing something that you love.