Enriched by Time

Organization experts love to teach us to squeeze more into our daily 24...but increasing our efficiency somehow just leaves us stressed out and gasping. Here, four writers who found a way to become rich in timeand fill their lives with WHAT COUNTS

enriched by time
Photograph: Reinhard Hunger

A Loophole in Time

by Diane Ackerman

I’ve heeded all sorts of alarm clocks: the jangling hammer and bell of a moonfaced metal demon, the buzz saw that chews dreams apart, the menacing pings that rival a dump truck backing up, the ascending shriek of a digital banshee, an iPhone’s polite din and that old two-timer, the snooze alarm. Jarred awake, I’d feel rushed before my feet hit the ground, spurred on by obligations—work to do, appointments to make, promises to keep, planes to catch.What all alarm clocks have in common is a swift kick in the sleep, a way to grab you by the nerve endings and yell, “Rush, rush! You’re nearly late!” The name says it all: An “alarm” clock is time’s enforcer rubbing in just how harried, overworked and overcommitted you truly feel. The whole point is discomfort, and kowtowing to our homegrown gods of chronicity, even though a different kind of time, seasonal time, surrounds us, whispering on a far more ancient level straight into every cell and bone.

But alarm clocks changed for me after my husband had a stroke several years ago and could no longer speak. Click here to read more.

In the Now

by Marcia Menter

I’m not going to be so melodramatic as to say my time is running out, but every look in the mirror tells me I’m entering the latter part of my life. I’ve been flirting with a major dermatological intervention. But no laser can change the fact that my wonderful 27-year marriage has flashed by in about 10 minutes or that I know a disturbing number of people my age with wonky knees, hips or backs (including me). The years I’ve lived are not gone. They’re all over my face and body. Furthermore, my life experiences, most of which I’ve forgotten, are still humming in my nervous system, affecting my perception of every new experience. When I hear the next-to-last Beethoven piano sonata, I hear it as the dozens of different women I was when I heard the piece before, and before, and before. My whole life flashes before my ears.

So my time is running out, because that’s what time does. And I’m still (as I’ve been for decades) obsessed with trying to be present for my own life, even though that’s like trying to catch the current of a river with your hands as it carries you downstream, toward the falls.

As time pushes me relentlessly onward, I skitter around like a cat in a glass-bottomed boat: Something is holding me up, but I’m damned if I can figure out what it is or get a foothold. In this state of intermittent existential terror, I rush and rush to get things done. But I already know—though I keep forgetting—that the way to stop being overwhelmed by the flow of time is to step outside it, and that one of the simplest, most practical ways to do this is through mindfulness meditation, or vipassana. I’m returning to this practice after a lapse of some years. Now I remember why I need it.

Click here to read more.

Rhythm of the Day

by Kathleen Norris

Originally published in the April 2012 issue

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