Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Not finding time

I confessed that I had not read the book my mother was recommending, but that with luck I soon would. “Now that all my December deadlines are behind me, I’m hoping to find time to do some reading,” I said as our Christmas dinner conversation rolled onward.

“We don’t find time; we make time,” my father admonished gently.

He’s right, and I’ve been thinking back on his words ever since.

Surely that’s not a sentiment new to me, but sometimes when someone says just the right words at just the right time, they seem to increase exponentially in impact. I’ve been thinking about time management for my entire adult life. I’ve read books on time management, attended lectures, perused articles, interviewed experts.

But sometimes it’s the simplest words – even wrapped in the form of a father’s admonition – that carry the most weight.

“We don’t find time; we make time,” I repeated to myself as I cleared the dinner dishes and started measuring coffee grounds.

Even that act seemed to align with my thoughts. I love coffee, and I love it best of all the way I make it. If I want a perfect cup of coffee, I thought to myself, I don’t wander around hoping to find one. Hey look, maybe someone happened to leave a cup of coffee in my kitchen! No, of course not. I take out a filter, measure the grounds, pour cold water from a clean pot. Even choosing the right mug becomes part of the process.

I’m not sure what the parallel to choosing the right coffee mug is when it comes to time management, but the idea of making coffee just the way I like it rather than hoping to chance across it brought my thoughts back to my father’s words. Time won’t just appear like a magical cup of coffee in my kitchen. I will have to make it for myself, every bit as deliberately as I make coffee every day.

And what I want is specific: not endless amounts of time, not days or weeks, just a half-hour or so every day to devote to reading fiction, something I never seem to do enough of.

There are ways that I can make that time, I told myself with determination. I can get more efficient with housekeeping. I can consolidate my errands a little better. I can spend less time dabbling in social media or paging through catalogs and magazines full of products I never really intend to buy.

We don’t find time; we make time. I’m trying. The new year is less than a week old, but I’ve already managed to carve out some reading time every day. It didn’t find me; I created it. Dad was right; it’s a matter of agency. If I want time to read, I need to create it myself.

And then I’ll be able to savor it the way we savor anything we’ve made from our own hands and our own will, knowing it’s a gift not of chance but of effort. A little bit of time. What a gift to craft for myself, if I can just somehow track down the materials I’ll need to make it.

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