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Submitted by Meredith Arena on Wed, 10/19/2011, 4:15pm
I spent ten days in New York and worried for almost the entire time. I worried and the worry multiplied like beads of condensation in a sealed terrarium. When I arrived, I felt tired and I worried about relaxing. I also worried about my homework for IDP teacher training. I got a job and worried about arriving on time. Time. I worry a lot about time. I dream that it is getting sucked up before my eyes. Wait is this a dream or reality?
It is a luxury that I even have time to think about time. Time spent worrying about time seems like comic tragedy. So as I wind up my travels with a few days of rest in Portland, before I turn 35, a fact empty of inherent meaning and brimming with possibility, I think I want to worry less, but I have am no good this.
The mindset of “time as an investment” is one I was raised with in New York City. On the one hand, if time is an investment, like money, we may expect too much of it, we may be too picky as to how we spend it. We cannot develop equanimity. On the other hand, if time is merely the passing of moments, we may be irresponsible in our choices. We may wile it all away and waste this precious human birth.
The feeling that time is slipping away feels like a failure to control it. The feeling like there is all the time in the world (how much is that?) feels foolish. I confess- I am terrible at time management. This because I believe that life will be meaningless if I don’t do everything. So I worry and I try to do too much. The word no feels like a limitation. I have to say yes to everything and so nothing really gets my full attention in any moment. Mindfulness practice extends far beyond seated meditation into how we make choices with our arcade Western minds.
Life rarely reaches seventy;
That I am seventy is a surprise.
I was too young the first ten years
And too old the last ten.
There are only fifty years in between;
Half of that time is spent at night.
By calculation I have only lived
During which I have endured much
toil and trouble.
Here is my response
Surprise! I am 35.
My mind cannot seem to catch up with this age.
In my teens I was too silly.
In my twenties too emotional.
From 25 to 35 I filled endless moments with ceaseless activity, half of it, unskillful.
The next ten years are unfathomable. Certainly they are finite, incapable if living up to their previously assigned role as success vessels.
Can I allow them to be empty of expectation and brimming with intention?
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