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Friday, July 26, 2013

Out of Time



"I don't have time for that."

That statement is the perfect embodiment of a self fulfilling prophesy; the mantra by which many of us live by to justify how we prioritize our lives, often in stressful and unhealthy ways. It is a statement which may be used to demonstrate one's importance and status in some area, such as work, yet it is what enables us to shelf lofty and otherwise fulfilling ventures which may provide us greater joy, peace, happiness, and health. It may too even be a statement used as a comfy blanket to shield us from our fear of change or taking a leap of faith.

What this process of self improvement has taught me is that the statement is a big, fat, stinking bowl of malarkey.

I know that I was on that boat for a long time, truly believing that I didn't have enough time in the day to do "X", whether it be volunteering at a local charity, getting more exercise, going back to school, being of service to others, or just getting into a new hobby. I felt like work and family dominated my life, with little time for myself (yeah, poor me! The guy with no time for himself somehow learned to play the tiniest violin). But let's consider what the average day looked like for me back when I had "no time". It typically consisted of me waking up at around 6 am (often hungover) and not wanting to get out of bed (sign of depression). I would reluctantly go to work where I would be tired all day. I would come home at around 5 pm and have dinner with the family, and finish the night off by sitting zombie-like in front of the TV absorbing radiation and colors for the last two hours of the day before I hit the pillow to complete the cycle (often this was passing out after copious quantities of wine and/or beer). You can see how happiness fitted into this.

How did I seek my happiness? Typically it was through my paycheck. I sought fulfillment and happiness through my employment, and was constantly working toward, and anticipating, the next merit pay increase or promotion which would grant me brief euphoria, which quickly faded into insignificance. Not that employment shouldn't make one happy, but I was seeking it as the only source of fulfillment. When it didn't give me what I wanted, I sought joy from alcohol. And the result was destructive.

One of the first excuses I used as I attempted recovery was that "I don't have time to do the work." It was already ingrained in my psyche. What I quickly learned was that it is entirely possible to make time for anything which you choose to make a priority. I made sobriety my priority, and the world did not come crashing down. I was able to still effectively do my job, and spend quality time with my family. The benefit was that I began seeing dramatic improvement both spiritually and mentally. I then found time for meditation and prayer.

After about a year, it became apparent to me that I could make time for anything with which I believed I could find fulfillment. That's when I felt the urge to test this to the extreme by training for multisports.

Is it possible to find significant time for the things you enjoy? I believe it is, and it is about changing our perspective. Time is relative. Albert Einstein famously said “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.” Even if this is a bit tongue in cheek, it certainly holds some truth. To put it another way, when we spend a lot of time doing something we don't enjoy, it may seem like we don't have time for anything else. Our perception is that it consumes all our time and energy, thus we don't have time for anything else. In reality, we can create time for what gives us energy and gives us fulfillment. 

My day is a lot more filled now, but it's fulfilled. I start my day a lot earlier now, at times around 4 am, but because I practice healthier habits and look forward to the day, it's not hard to get up. I start the day out with a run, bike, or swim, which gives me energy for the day. I still commute an hour each way to work and work a full day, but can often take my lunch break and do more for myself. I find time for prayer and meditation, and time to focus on my recovery. My family and I find time to grow our own vegetables, and cook healthy meals. I even find time to write about my experience. The best part about this is, while I am busier now than ever, I am more joyous and free. And I am confident I can find time for other things if necessary.

The aforementioned Albert Einstein was even able to find time to play the violin and take sailboats out on the lake while writing his special theory of relativity. 

Even the leader of the free world can find a little free time... 


President Bush and friends being chased by mean ol' Mr. Cheney and his high pressure hose

Wearing hot pants and sweating profusely, the VP shows a poor (pre-PowerPoint) representation of global warming on his T-shirt

So when you find yourself presented with a situation where the spirit moves you, and you say "I would love to do that!", let there be no "buts." And certainly, don't deprive yourself because you think you can't find the time. If you look hard enough, you will find it.