I just need a few more hours – in every day. I know I’m not on my own. We all have lists that are never completed, tasks left undone, calls not made and gardens unwatered. I am behind with my blog posts but publishing my thoughts is a luxury and the first casualty in my battle with time.
I have two clear hours en route to Hull and another two on my return journey. With any luck I will get this post written. Every other weekend I make this journey to visit my mum in her care home. After I’ve listened to a download of Friday night’s episode of The Archers I can lose at least half the journey on social media. It’s so wonderful to be connected via Hull Trains’ free wifi but distraction is the devil. It’s not that there isn’t enough time – there are just too many interesting things to dip into.
How has this happened? I don’t remember being so conscious of time before I reached midlife. I had the notion that time was my friend. I was organised and efficient and my mantra was: ‘if you want a job doing ask a busy person’.
Very gradually things began to change and now I am always runner up in the race against time. Is it me? Am I slowing down and this is another symptom of midlife? Or is it a wider problem and the natural result of technology which offers us more possibilities than we can ever hope to fulfil.
My mini Schnauzer has little concept of time except when it relates to meals. She mostly snoozes her way through life. In the summer she gives up quickly and lies down, full length, mid-walk, in cool grass or shade. I look down at her, frustrated by her refusal to acknowledge my own pressing schedule; she gazes up at me then rolls on her back for a tummy tickle. I always give in. Time as the mortal enemy only applies to humans. The rest of the animal kingdom remain blissfully at peace with the length of a day. I’m not one to look backwards through rose tinted glasses – I wouldn’t give up my washing machine for a twintub or swap email for a fax. BUT there was something nice about being bored once in a while. I cannot remember the last time I fell asleep, like my dog, during the day.
Trying to think of an image to go with this post I dug out a beautiful antique watch given to me by my husband. He always wears a watch and is obsessed by time pieces (and many other things but male OCD will be another post). I rarely wear one. My phone long-since became my timekeeper as well as navigator, diary, almanac and thesaurus. But there is something about the sound of a ticking clock or the mechanics of a wind-up timepiece that suggests a simpler, slower pace of life.
In 1979 my teacher for GCSE accountancy explained to the class that our future would involve far more leisure time than previous generations. His utopia consisted of shorter working weeks, early retirement and lots of golf (it was his vision not mine). To the assembled group of working class girls whose parents worked in the grinding boredom of Northern factories this was received with open-mouthed disbelief. It didn’t happen in the way he envisioned at all. The problem with predicting the future is that nothing ever turns out as we expect it to. Yes we have shorter working weeks but we bring our work home, we check email on holiday, during dinner, on the bus. Last thing at night, when once we might have wound up an alarm clock we now plug in our phone. All through the night it collects news, images and messages and when its alarm goes off we are already behind, desperately scrolling to catch-up over breakfast.
I started this post trying to explain to myself why my bi-weekly blogging had fallen behind schedule. The simple truth is I am really busy at work and as a small design business that is fantastic news. It just means that I have to let a few other things fall by the wayside, temporarily. Writing these few words has been carthartic because it allows me to process the anxiety that comes from what the experts call time-stress. I am not superwoman, just a woman, after all. I am also now wearing my watch!
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