Friday, May 20, 2005

Time and Silence

Time has always fascinated me. One of my favorite books is The Mirror, which is a novel about a young woman looking in her grandmother's mirror and being suddenly transported to her grandmother's body when her grandmother was a young woman. Time travel exchange. So intriguing! My mom is turning 82 years old. My dad died when he was 64. My mom has always been 8 years younger than my dad, and for years now she has been older than he ever was.

Ed says our mistake is in how we think of time - as linear. Even the word timeline denotes a linear route. I used to love to look at history books at the chronological timeline, seeing that first this happened, then this happened, then this happened. What I never thought about was expanding the timeline another direction. OK, so Columbus sailed in 1492 - what was happening in China then? Or Africa? I would love to take one year in history and find out what was happening everywhere in the world - in science, politics, religion, romance, literature, etc. To see the whole picture.

I know part of the simplicity idea is to be still and reflect on our lives and priorities and relationships. It is so hard for me to be still. Ed says I've always been that way. I have to be doing something. I watch TV and then I read during the commercials. He says I have to be still and listen to my inner voice. I tell him it just means I value time so much I don't want to waste it. He says my idea of wasting time is not a waste. Being still and doing nothing relaxes the spirit and revives the soul and gives me "time" outside the physical realm to reconnect my spirit with God.

It's hard for me to be still and do nothing. My mind keeps busy thinking of things I need to be doing.

When we had our downstairs repainted last year, we had to take out everything in the rooms, obviously, including everything on the wall. That included all the clocks. After the painting was completed, we put back everything - except we later realized we had neglected to put back a clock in our fireplace room. I kept nagging Ed to hang back the clock, and he balked. We finally left it without a clock, and we call it "The Timeless Room." It is supposed to be a relaxing area where you are forced to be without a clock (which is a reminder of time itself). I have to admit that sometimes I am little uncomfortable in that room. Oh, the chairs are comfy and in the chill it is heavenly to sit in front of the wood stove, but something makes me slightly jittery about not knowing what time it is.

Ed is the opposite. He'd be late to appointments if it weren't for me, sometimes, because he has no idea of time and doesn't really care. He wishes we had no time. He really hates daylight savings time going on and off, "as if we could make more daylight!" he says. Probably some of his anxiety comes from timed tests he has had to take all his life, which he never took well.

One day at work I found myself getting too stressed and I forced myself to stop typing and sit still and listen. It was a day I was by myself, so the only noise I heard was the ticking of my wall clock. As you can imagine, that stressed me more. Who was the comic book character that always said, "Time's a'wastin'!" That clock is ticking away and those seconds are gone forever. What did I accomplish in the last hour? The last day? The last week or month or year? When I think on those questions, I can even feel my heart beating faster! Those are anxiety-provoking questions for me.

This is definitely a lesson I have to learn if I want to bring simplicity and peace to my life. I have to make friends with time, that mysterious entity whose power seems to determine my outlook and increase my stress - in essence, it has set itself up as ruler of my life. The odd thing is that if I value time fully, how I use it should bring me a sense of peace and contentment, not panic.

Ed and I decided we need a "Timeless Room" in our new house too.


Chris said...

Carol, you really have to compile all of this in a book. It is so very thought provoking....

Chris from MT Photo

Sarah said...

Great post! Makes me appreciate the time when Matt is just sitting there and thinking....I often tell him that we need to get some things done, but he loves to just sit there and reflect. Maybe it is genetic :)

Tif said...

My boss never wears a watch. She once told me she stopped wearing it after she had breast cancer. She wanted to take each moment and savor it without being a slave to the clock. Of course, she still has meetings to attend (on time!) and other obligations, but she tries to focus on living instead of the ticking. Would that I could be so brave!

Pam from MT Photo Album said...

Carol, your writing is exquisite!

Like Ed, I don't like clocks either. It seems they want to control my life. I quit wearing my watch when I started working at home. I haven't made my GYN appointment b/c I don't like being anywhere at a certain time, but I will do that eventually.

At first, I would time my work but then I realized that it didn't matter how long it took me as long as I got it done and back the next day.

I love the idea of a timeless room. I think we all need one of those.

Pam M.