I generally pride myself on avoiding toxic relationships, but there’s one relationship in my life that has a classic negative spiral: My relationship with Time.
To illustrate, let’s imagine that I’m writing a letter to Time. It would sound something like this…
How are you? Wait, I don’t care because I’m really just concerned about myself and what you can do for me. Look, we need to talk. I’ve told you this a million times and I’m not sure how you’re not getting it, but…
THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH OF YOU.
I know, you always say, “All I do is give, give, give and all you do is take, take, take” but I thought we’d decided that was how this relationship was going to work?? You give. I take. And by the way, you’re certainly not giving enough. Let’s step it up.
I’m so frustrated. I try to manage you, organize you, wrestle you into my submission, but you always escape me. You drive me crazy. (And not in that good kind of way.)
And also… I hate how you just disappear on me. I’ll look around, expecting you to be there, and it’s like “Poof!” You’re just… gone! It makes me so mad. Like when I see how my kids have grown or my parents have aged or the day has flown by and I haven’t accomplished everything on my list.
Let me be clear: I’m sick of you sneaking around behind my back and changing stuff without my permission. So from here on out, I WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU’RE WITH AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING AT ALL TIMES. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
So really, I’d like you to just slow down. Except when I want you to speed up.
Like when I’m waiting for my business to take off or a client to call back or when I was a kid and I wanted Christmas to come or when I’m in line at the DMV. These are times you need to stop dragging your feet. It’s like you can’t make up your mind: Slow or fast?
So how about we make this really easy… go slow when I want you to go slow and go fast when I want you to go fast. Just let me call all the shots about how you work so that everything you do is calibrated specifically for me and my benefit. (And by the way, this is going to change several times every day, so you’ll need to pay close attention to keep up.)
Sigh… I feel like I’m wasting you even writing this. Yes, I know you’re “precious” and all that but if you could just change yourself to suit my needs more often I’d really appreciate it. (And by “appreciate it” I mean I might stop complaining about you for an hour or so. You’re welcome.)
I’m glad we’ve had this talk. I know we both feel better. As you can see, you’ve got a lot of work to do. Now, get to it…. Time’s a wastin’, ha!
Your really crappy friend,
You don’t need me to tell you that this letter describes a miserable relationship.
If Time and I were dating, he should have dumped me long ago.
This letter is extremely flippant, yet it’s a pretty accurate depiction of my relationship with Time, whom I’m now using as a proper noun because we’re pen pals.
But what if I rewrote the letter?
What if I sought to forge a different relationship with Time? One that started from a place of respect?
I imagine that letter might sound like this…
Hi. How are you? I just want to start off this letter by thanking you for everything you’ve ever given me. Those birthday parties as a child, every time I’ve hugged my mom, that fateful foggy night when Josh and I kissed–really kissed–for the first time. And perhaps my favorite… that Christmas Eve, after the years of infertility, when I found out I was pregnant. I felt like I’d waited so long, but that day, that moment, I understood… you knew what you were doing all along.
I feel like there aren’t enough words to tell you what you mean to me. You’ve given me literally everything. My years on Earth haven’t always been easy but they’ve been filled with precious moments… sunrises, sunsets, stars, travel, reading books, eating meals, holding hands with people I love. I’m able to experience all of it because of you.
I WANT TO APOLOGIZE THAT I OFTEN SIMULTANEOUSLY TAKE YOU FOR GRANTED AND WISH YOU AWAY.
I want you to move quickly sometimes and slowly others. I think I get to control you, but that’s not the truth… you’re always calling the shots. And I’m glad, because you seem to know exactly what you’re doing.
How about this? How about I learn to trust you a bit more? How about I relax into the perfection of this thing you’ve been doing since, oh I don’t know, the beginning of YOURSELF–something I can’t even properly contemplate–while I’ve been at this “being human” gig for just shy of 40 years. (And by the way, when I get to 40, I’ll try to be thankful to you and not resentful. Please remind me if I suck at that.)
How about we be partners, you and me? Best friends even? I’d love for us to hang out together, laugh, revel in each other’s company. I mean, we’re always together anyway. It’s a bit ridiculous to not get along. Heck, maybe we could even fall in love?
Thanks for being patient with me, for always allowing the world to unfold to me exactly as it should. You really are the best. And I love you.
With gratitude, love, and plenty of hope for our future happiness,
Well, that’s certainly a much rosier picture, isn’t it? Writing these letters helped me to see how toxic my relationship with Time often is and how–by simply adjusting my attitude–I could start to enjoy a rich, meaningful relationship with Time, one that’s full of gratitude and respect.
Writing these letters also reminded me of this Bible verse:
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.
Perhaps I need to relax into the truth of these words:
Everything happens at the exact right time.
This is the basis of a good relationship, is it not? Trust. I need to learn to trust that Time has a season for everything in my life. I don’t need to try to make things happen faster or slower. I literally can’t. They happen when they’re ready to happen and I can either fight that, or relax into it and enjoy the beauty.
But does this mean that I simply sit back, remote control in hand, and just “let life happen, man…”? No. An attitude like that is just as disrespectful to Time as trying to anxiously schedule and control it. Time is a precious gift. You don’t need me to tell you that. It’s the most important thing we’re given, every single day that we’re lucky enough to wake up and open our eyes.
If someone gave you a precious gift every morning, would you just let it sit on your porch and rot?
No. If the gift was truly precious, you would use it. But you would use it in a way that honors the gift. Stretching, pulling, yanking, forcing, cramming, and constantly complaining about the gift is not honorable use. And if I’m being honest, which by now you surely know I am, this is how I’ve used the gift of Time many, many days of my life.
So therein lies the challenge… finding a way to both honor and use Time.
I don’t know how to do this perfectly. I’m not even close. But I think a good first step is recognizing the kind of relationship I want to have with Time–that great love of my life–and start taking steps toward that. Respectful steps. Grateful steps. The kind of steps that move me closer to the life I want.
And perhaps, these kinds of steps would do the same for you.
And hey, if you’re feeling motivated, try writing your own letter to Time. The English teacher in me would love to know what you come up with. Feel free to send your letter to me personally at [email protected].
To all of us falling in love with Time,
PS Would simplifying your home help you create a more free and happy relationship with Time? If you’re ready to get started, grab my FREE Simplicity Starter guide and let’s go!