“The secret of life … is to enjoy the passage of time.” – James Taylor
My friends and I are in Newport Beach for our semi-annual strategic master-mind.
We were walking back on Ocean Blvd. from our morning beach walk and window-shopping.
The above display in a high-end furniture store stopped us in our tracks.
How would you like to sleep in a room that had this HUGE clock looming over you?
It just felt … wrong.
Yet, in a way, that’s how many of us feel every day.
TIME, in capital letters, looms over our every waking moment.
We rush through our days, watching the clock, ever aware of appointments, deadlines, schedules, agendas, checklists.
The faster we go, the behinder we get.
We hurry here, there, everywhere.
Too much to do. Can’t be late. Have a very important date.
For many of us, time runs and ruins our life.
The multi-faceted consequences of this constant time pressure was never more evident than in what happened to a friend of mine.
Sue is a high-level negotiator who mediates contracts between multi-million dollar organizations.
She was doing a rare team-teaching and went to bed early the night before the program so she’d be ready for the big day.
Her team teacher called around 9 pm and Sue’s daughter picked up the phone.
“Can I talk to Sue please? I’ve got some questions about our presentation tomorrow.”
“Actually, my mom went to bed early. She wasn’t feeling well.”
Instead of getting the hint, the team teacher said, “I really need to speak to her.”
Sue’s daughter came back with, “I don’t want to wake her. She needs the sleep.”
Instead of backing down, the team teacher persisted. (She later said it wasn’t like her to insist on talking to someone when diplomatically being told “no” – but somehow she knew this was important.)
Sue’s daughter relented. She went to wake up her mom and discovered she was in a … coma. Sue had had an adverse reaction to a new medication and was unconscious.
Thankfully, Sue’s daughter immediately sprung into action. She called 911 and an ambulance was there in minutes. The EMT’s began emergency procedures to revive Sue on the way to the hospital.
In the middle of all this, Sue was having the out-of-body experience you may have heard about from other people who have “died” and come back.
Sue was “above it all” watching the medical team try to revive her.
Sue experienced the bright light that exuded an all-encompassing love, peace and serenity that transcended description.
She saw her loved ones that had already passed … on the other side of a body of water.
She was given a choice. She could join her loved ones on the other side of the water… or she could come back and take care of her daughter.
Sue chose to come back and take care of her daughter.
When Sue was telling our small group this story over dinner, she said one of the enduring memories of that experience was the ludicrousness of time.
She said, looking back on earth, we all look like ants, frantically rushing to and fro.
Busy, busy, busy. Anxious. Up tight. Angry. Tense. Impatient. Always behind. Always frustrated.
She said, “From that perspective, you see the futility of it all. The silliness of it all. The senselessness of it all. You want to take it back. You want a do-over.
Like Emily in Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, you just want to go back and take it all in and be in a state of wonder at the bliss, beauty and blessedness of a normal day.
You long for a second chance to enjoy the passage of time instead of obsess over it.”
The good news is, we have a second chance for a do-over … right here, right now.
We can look around and appreciate all we already have instead of operating with the underlying feeling there’s never enough time, we’re always behind, we’ll never get caught up, we’ll never get it all done.
We can integrate James Taylor’s wise words and enjoy the passage of time, appreciate having time.
It really is the secret of life.