Photo by Shuna Fish Lydon

Someone sent me an email to request a conversation with me tomorrow at 2:00 pm. Ever since I stopped wearing a watch with regularity a couple of years ago I’ve been struck by how tethered we are as a culture to the idea of hours and minutes. Time, as in the time of day, days of the week, is so woven into the fabric of our lives that we have a hard time organizing ourselves without considering it. We have difficulty imagining what a day would be like if it weren’t broken up into hours and minutes.

Slots to be filled with useful activities.

So, when someone wants to have a phone conversation with me, instead of just picking up the phone, they send an email, and try to find a particular slot, bounded by numbers, in which I might be available to talk with them, in a particular slot, bounded by numbers, which works well for them.

Don’t people just pick up the phone and call anymore?

The problem is that now that I work for myself, building a business that requires just my creative attention, not a consulting business that is bonded to time constraints of clients, I have a hard time with doing anything at an appointed time, and submit to it only because it is necessary and important to others. There is also TV; Dr. Who comes on at 8 pm on Friday and if I miss it, god help me if I can find a rerun. I get almost a little panicky around the hours that I need to remember, because so out-of-time-consciousness am I that I easily, completely forget. Yet when I need to wake up at a specific time, I can do so, without an alarm. Can you?

Days are a bit easier. Wednesday in the food section. Saturday I can usually get some work done because I’m not bombarded by a hundred emails that need answering. Sunday is church, whether I go or not. I’m addicted to 2 TV programs at the moment, but I don’t usually remember that they are on until a half hour before. Monday dinner, “oh, the Closer is on.” Friday dinner, “Yikes! Dr. Who starts in 5 minutes.” (Except when it doesn’t. Half the time our cable company shifts it to another time slot on Friday. Ironic. Dr. Who is a time lord.)

Back to that 2:00 appointment. I have no other plans. But I do have a 9-year old nephew to entertain, and who knows? Perhaps he would want to go to the zoo. I don’t know what I’ll cook for the site until I after I wake up in the morning, perhaps it will require me cooking at 2:00?

I cherish the freedom to do whatever comes up in the moment, and do whatever is needed to be done at the moment. Saturdays and Wednesdays are dream days because I have absolutely no commitments. Free to create anything. Nothing to remember. No panic over appointments missed. There’s something going on on the other days, something that I need to organize myself around.

How do you relate to time? Do you sleep with your watch on? Does an alarm wake you up? What routines do you have that are defined by the numbers of your clock? How full is your calendar? What is “full” for you?

There’s no rush for answers. Take your time. ;-)

5 thoughts on “Time

  1. Oh this SOOO hits me right now – someone who’s not worn a watch for 10 years.

    But — here’s the thing.

    A friend called me TWO WEEKS ago saying she wanted to pick up some tickets this week. She lives all of 15 minutes away so it’s not like it should take a lot of planning. But I said Sure, just call me beforehand and any time should be okay.

    You see, I know this friend. If I were to say Sure, let’s make it 2pm on Wednesday, she’d say, Oh no, I can’t do that, that’s when I pick up the Daughter.

    Or even if she said Yes, then over the next 10 days she’d go through 20 iterations of adjustments based on her changing schedule.

    And I’m just not willing to base my (very loose) schedule on her (very tight wound by non-committal) schedule.

    I just won’t deal.

    When we talked about something else last week, she mentioned that she wants to pick up the tickets some time this week. I said, Sure, just call me beforehand and any time should be okay.

    Last night, her brother e-mailed me — he’s the one that wants the tickets and lo! because his sister’s been dithering over timing for two weeks, they’re for tomorrow and so now of course it’s a big rush.

    And so she may well show up some time this afternoon – let’s hope she calls first – but will she have time to stop for a glass of tea, you know, carry on a conversation about something other than a ^5*&^ schedule? Nope. She’ll be running late, on her way somewhere else.

    Okay, I’m done, thank you.

  2. Oh Alanna, I feel your pain.

    In these cases I simply say to the person, “you pick a time”. That way they have to figure out their own schedule first, and get back to me.

    I too was once one of those people, rushing constantly, no time for a conversation. Happy to be free of that now.

  3. I stopped wearing a watch on September 30, 1998. That’s the day I got out of the Navy and a promise I made to myself to not be bound by time. And I have never once regretted my decision. People ask me all the time how I can function w/o a watch and I tell them to look around. There are clocks absolutely everywhere. I have never been late since then and I always wake up in time to be where I have to be. And my life is much more calm. :)

  4. Hi Elise,

    I stopped wearing watches about 10 years ago with any regularity and about 6 years ago at all. I don’t regret it.

    I have been freelance / professional art weirdo for seven years now and I have the same issues.

    Monday I remember to get the paper. Wednesday is the LA Tims Food Section (sacred). Sunday is guilt over not having found a church I like, so I read and sleep in. And all the other days have melted into one.

    This only drives my sister, who is very linear & wears a watch, crazy.

    As a single, no-kids, freelance person what time I go to bed at & wake up at is also subject to variablity.

  5. Over the past year, I have been using my oven timer to remind me that my son’s school bus is about to drop him off, or that it’s time to pick up my other son at preschool. I’ve lost all faith in my ability to notice what time it is during the course of my day, and if the alarm is not set, I spend all of my time fretting about forgetting, rather than doing something productive.

    Using my time, I can be bound by the time constraints inherent in modern life without really realizing it (at least until that alarm sounds, anyway).

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