Work and I had a fight and I am reconsidering our relationship. It started a couple of weeks ago. It was a day like any other day. An overflowing to-do list, a list of back-to-back appointments, projects nearly due / due yesterday / pathetically overdue, all tempered with pure-unadulterated exhaustion. I feel like I have been tired for ages and all I wanted to do was sleep. Everything is starting to look like the ugly side of our relationship, busy work. All I wanted to do was sleep, do nothing until I feel like myself again.
I felt like a hamster in a cage, running in the silly wheel, going nowhere.
Except work, the love of my life, just won’t let up. He comes at me from every angle including guilt and responsibility.
I got mad. I canceled everything. I rescheduled every meeting, put the to-do list aside and went to sleep. It’s been a long time since work and I had such an epic fight. In this go around, the culprit is time; time was the toilet seat left up, and we are in an argument no one is wrong and everyone is right. I decided to not talk to work until we are at a better place.
Between sleeping, napping, spin class (the irony of being on a wheel going nowhere has not escaped me), reading and laundry, I thought a lot about our main point of disagreement, time.
As an American you are living in an accelerated time scale compared to the rest of the world. As an overachieving ambitious type-A New Yorker consulting in the start-up world, you are living in an accelerated time scale by 300%. How many hours we work vs how little we sleep get is some sort of badge of honor manifest as deep bags under our eyes in which we proudly taut.
We are driven to this manic mad scientist work ethic because we are afraid that there is not enough time. Time is linear and a scarce commodity.
What is that is not true?
Every day that followed, I asked myself this question, what if you had all the time in the world? What would you do? How would that be different?
I slowed down. I only did a couple of things a day. I barely answered emails and kept most of my replies to a word or two. There were a lot of simple life sustaining tasks such as grocery, cooking and laundry. I slept a lot and napped frequently. I read a little and binge watch House of Cards.
Everywhere I turned the concept of time followed me. Every pod-cast, TV show and random articles I come across, there it is, time. Not just time but a different way to consider time. From Brian Greene to Ann Hamilton to Beck’s new album, time is being talked about, considered, re-imagined. Even friends who knew nothing of the upheavals in my private life is bringing up the issue of time.
John texts me randomly to tell me about Misao Okawa, who was born in 1898. She is 116 years old and still has all of her memories. It took a moment for John and I to really consider what it means to be born at the end of the 19th century.
The Spanish-American war was still ongoing when she was born. She is old enough to remember when car was invented and alive before there was the Golden Gate Bridge. There was no radio. Electricity was still relativity new, long before anyone’s ever heard of teddy bears (named after Theodore Roosevelt). Before there was pop tarts or Kraft Mac & Cheese, Star Trek, Gay Rights or Astronauts. There was no Rite of Spring, Rock n’ Roll, The Beatles, Darth Vader, URRS, Hitler, The Berlin Wall. Misao was born before antibiotics, radium has yet to be discovered and there was no quantum physics . There was no Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, e e Cummings, T S Eliot, J R Tolkien, John Cage, John Kerouac. Carl Jung has yet to publish his first paper and the term psychoanalysis was only invented two years prior and yet to take hold. Edmund Hillary has not climbed Mt Everest and there was no Hollywood film industry.
So much we take for granted as “classic” was just born yesterday.
After 10 days of this quiet contemplation, proper amount of napping and re-imagining of time, I start to feel like myself again. That is when worked called. We made up without a lot fuss. I’m back to meetings, to-do and deadlines but with a different sensibility regarding time. Sleeping and napping can give you a whole new P e r s p e c t i v e.
Think of all that is yet to come in our lifetime. Think of all the masterpieces we still have time to crate, change to affect, and lover to love. Future. Open.