In my younger days, I was at an event in my hometown when Miss Annie Mae, a family friend, asked, “Can you believe it’s halfway through June already?”
“No, I can’t,” I said following with the thing you’re supposed to say: “Time is flying.”
The reason I remember this exchange is because I wrote a little piece referencing the conversation. The reason I wrote a little piece about that conversation is because I used the question as a marker for the rest of the summer.
Over the next few weeks, I would observe that it has been one month, six weeks, two months, etc., since Miss Annie Mae pointed out that it was halfway through June already. My field research confirmed the initial assessment: time really does go by fast.
By now, it’s been more than 30 years since Miss Annie Mae asked me if I could believe it was halfway through June already. So yeah, time still flies. But what can anybody do about it?
Nothing. To a certain degree, that is. The orbits and revolutions of celestial bodies take place without our influence or input. The only thing we can do anything about is this day, this moment, this hour.
Speaking of… depending on the translation, there seem to be only a couple of references to the word “hour” across all the books of the Old Testament. Get to the Gospels and Jesus mentions the word hour several times. See if any of these phrases sound familiar:
• No one knows the day or the hour.
• Whatever you say will be given you in that hour.
• Who by worrying can add a single hour?
• An hour is coming.
Regardless of what year this is, or what month is on the calendar, the hour is the increment of time that is within our influence – and just past that is this very day.
A few years ago I talked to a business coach who explained to me the concept of time management. He said it’s about putting things on a calendar so you’ll take the action you need to take at that time.
I agree, to a degree. However, creative projects do not fit well within precise time slots. Let’s say I put on a calendar: “2 p.m. – 3 p.m., write newsletter article.” I don’t know how to do that, especially since the time is probably going to be 1:43 – 2:27. So I took his advice, but I adjusted it to a time management process that works better for me. I list the actions I need to take each day in the order that I want to take them. That’s how I control (but more precisely influence) my day.
In doing so, this list becomes a guidepost that shields me from the inner critic complaining that “you haven’t done this, that or the other” and gives me a counterpoint to a tendency to feel as if I’m falling short. There are a LOT of things I did not and will not do today. For example, it just so happens, I did not climb Mt. Kilimanjaro this morning, but I do not feel disappointed about that because it wasn’t on the list.
It’s a human tendency that whatever time we have allotted for a particular task is the amount of time it takes us to accomplish it. I often quote my Aunt Minnie when she said, “I wake up in the morning with nothing to do and don’t get finished with it all day.”
This was the point my business coach was making about time management. The way to tend to responsibilities is one hour at a time. Don’t look too far ahead (unless you’re at a strategic planning retreat) and don’t look too far behind (unless you’re writing your memoirs), but look to this very moment for the opportunities it holds. And take an action.
I first became aware of the subjective nature of the measurement of time in college when I was attending a sorority Founder’s Day celebration. I was 20 years old and standing next to our guest speaker, a lady in her 80s, as we watched a skit about roller coasters. I asked her if she had ever ridden a roller coaster, and she said, “Yes, I have and it wasn’t too long ago. About ten years.”
I couldn’t believe that she could think ten years, half my life span, was “not too long ago.” What I now know is that even though ten years is still a pretty good amount of time, “not too long ago” continues to get a broader and broader definition.
This is a challenge of life: coming to terms with the cause and effect relationship of today and tomorrow, and, of course, the speed with which the tomorrows come. Not much we can do about that, except recognizing here’s where we are. This very moment. This particular day. This is the hour that is ours. This is the time that is in our hands.
Enjoy your magnificent journey.
– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 23