time (is relative)

(this is not the post I had mentioned I was working on, but it’s so relevant after last night that I took a detour just as Shabbat ended to talk about this)

If you know anything about me, you know that I struggle with making decisions, staying focused, and being on time. Like, literally, those are my top three struggles. (How it never occurred to me that I might have ADHD is seriously wild.) Now, for a long time, I have talked about how my issues with time have to do with the fact that I don’t see time in a linear fashion (Business Insider’s explanation of linear-active time is the best I’ve seen re: my own conception of time)—but I think 11.5 years in the States have changed that a little bit.

Yesterday, I spent some time with my uncle for lunch—and it became abundantly clear that I am starting to see time differently, even though he has lived here for longer than I have.

So, we started our lunch date around 2:00PM, my husband and uncle and I. We’d been chatting for a while, so I didn’t think we would have a ton more talking to do during lunch itself. Yet we kept talking while eating and all of a sudden it was 4:15PM and our roommate M was joining us and I realized that I was really tired. We spent another hour chatting and eating—and I found myself looking at my phone every 10-15 minutes and thinking about all of the things that I needed to do and how I still needed to rest—and then it was a little after six and I was saying goodbye to my uncle and sighing with relief and desire for a nap.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I loved spending time with my uncle, whom J and I hadn’t seen since our wedding (exactly eight months ago yesterday!!!!), and it was nice to dress up and be a person for the first time since I came home from work, sick as hell, mid-Wednesday. So this wasn’t about him at all, and I was actually upset with myself about how I was feeling.

It wasn’t until I did some reading for my class later in the evening that I realized what was going on. Talking about the effects of globalization, Martin Carnoy says:

“Everything, including relations among family and friends, is rapidly becoming organized around a much more compressed view of space and time.”

Carnoy, M. (2005). Globalization, educational trends and the open society.

Now, here’s the thing: I’ve been sick for the past few days with a terrible sinus infection on top of the flu I’d been nursing, so I think that perhaps my tiredness played a part in all of this, but the truth is that I’d noticed myself starting to look at my watch in the middle of brunch with friends, even if I was extremely glad to be hanging out with them. The longest I’ve spent in a catch-up session recently was three hours—which, by my standards, is literally no time at all. (I’ve been known to spend a whole day with a friend, from brunch to meandering around to dinner and then hanging out at one of our apartments before parting when it’s too late to stay up any longer.)

Reflecting on that big change brings me back to the Carnoy quote above, and the way that I feel things have changed for me. Having so much stuff to do, with two jobs and grad school, I have started thinking about my time in terms of efficiency—and I’m also doing stuff like showing up for meetings early (???) and trying to cut off tangents so we can stick to the agenda (???) and scheduling time to do things in the interstitial spaces, i.e. between meetings. Even when I’m having meandering conversations with friends and coworkers, I’ve got something else going on; I’m grading during my lunch and catching up on my emails during meetings and working on deliverables as we discuss them in check-ins.

Turns out, spending the past (just over a) decade in Chicago has changed me in more ways than just linguistically (which is another post) in and of itself.

Okay, cool, so I figured this out about myself—what next?

I think my goal re: time is going to be to have some more balance. I don’t necessarily think that I can go back to the linear-active way of seeing time while I live in a linear culture; it’s important for me to keep meeting deadlines and showing up to meetings on time. However, I think I’m going to work on relaxing my time-focus when I’m spending time with people—which means that I have to unlearn the “time is money” mentality and start thinking of time as a different, yet still valuable currency that is not as finite as money. This is especially going to be something for me to try on Shabbat, as it’s supposed to be my day of rest but I’m still scheduling it and putting stuff on my to-do list. /o\

I’m not going to add it to my goals for the year, necessarily—but I’m going to be working on having unscheduled time to enjoy on Shabbat throughout February and see if that makes a difference in my energy levels.

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