As I wait for my weekly clinic appointment at the hospital, a white blackboard looms in front of me with large black letters. A message reads “We ARE SORRY FOR ANY DELAYS. DELAYS: 45-60MIN.” By the looks of it, it was scribbled in a hurry. The waiting room is heaving with people who are all expecting to be seen in the next hour, when the clinic closes.
Looking around, people are eating, chatting on the phone, texting–doing whatever they can do to not ‘waste’ time by simply sitting. Such is life in the world we live in; we have more and more expectations of ourselves and others to achieve more in less time, and as a result we don’t always do things to the best of our ability, or to the benefit of those around us who might be impacted from our work.
Case in point. Last week it took me hours to fill a medical prescription, including four trips up and down the hospital stairs to and from the pharmacy. The doctor kept having to rewrite the prescription because he was rushing and did not follow the instructions for submitting a script for said medication. He even mixed up my name sticker with another patient’s at one point. The pressure and demand we place on ourselves and others is not only often unrealistic, but unsustainable, leading to injury and accident. Sadly, to move out of this high paced system of operation, we need time to understand, envision and implement another way of being in the world.
Just as agricultural fields need time to lie fallow, so do we as human beings. Time to rest, digest and dream is essential in the practice of living mindfully in the world. It not only provides us the space to listen deeply for our authentic voice, but enables vision and intention to become clear. Once we have heard and understood our internal needs and goals, it becomes easier to move to a more active state of understanding and planning how to live in a more sustainable way.
Of course, a part of filling up our schedules and not providing time for quiet and rest may also be due to a general fear of being alone. So many of us either don’t know how to be on our own or don’t like what we see, that rather than change or practice being in the quiet alone space, we escape to activities, work, or people. Only when we learn this skill, however, will we be happy humans being rather than doing in the time afforded. As the Celtic proverb goes, ‘When God made time, he made enough.’
Time doesn’t speed up or slow down. It is our own perspective and management of time that contribute to our expectations of ourselves and others. There must be some truth to the old adage “less is more” and a more enticing way to package the benefits of being idle. When we look back to our roots as beings dependent on the earth’s natural cultivation cycles, perhaps we will remember the practice of taking time out for rest and reflection, and integrate this into our weekly to do list. We may all contribute to a more mindful, effective society if we could only learn to pause and reflect before rushing forward with eyes closed. It may even change the way we see.