Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tick Tock

Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week. - Charles Richards

I hate waiting for people! I do not like to rush so I always prepare ahead of time. I hate being late so I always arrive early. I would be extremely happy to meet up with someone. I would arrive as bubbly as can be, but after the clock declares them ten minutes late, my attitude quickly changes. I flip flop from concern about their well-being and whereabouts to resent for wasting my time. Now I am developing a bit more tolerance {not patience} as long as the underlying issue is not a lack of respect.

“For a while" is a phrase whose length can't be measured. At least by the person who's waiting.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

I view life as a series of sequential events with notable deadlines and time frames. My daily planners would be segmented into hours or sometimes minutes! The default calendar entry on my phone would render an hour’s worth of time. As a result, if I agreed to meet someone for dinner, I would input an hour in my Smartphone and most likely, I would have another plan lined up after.

Two separate events stirred my curiosity on the concept of time:
1. Last night, Ladi and had dinner plans for 6:45PM. We met at 6PM and bid each other farewell at almost 10:30PM.

Neither of us had other engagements. Both of us had a great time.

2. I was obsessing about an email well the non-existence of an email I was expecting! I became excited about an email thread. I sent an email at 8:33AM, received a response at 9AM and responded by 9:06AM – then nothing!
Time has always been a linear concept for me and then…. there was China!

After living in New York, the fast paced city for so many years, I was accustomed to extremely quick turnarounds, if not immediate gratification. I could walk into the photo shop, drop off my pictures, go to the post office and pick up my pictures ten minutes later! This seemed like the norm to me so when I moved to China, I figured technology was just as great so nothing would change. I dropped my pictures and I was told to come back in two days!

Eventually, I was able to get pictures sooner or maybe I cared less so I didn’t realize that a day or two had elapsed but I know for sure that when I operated on a more cyclical view of time, I felt less overwhelmed or rushed. There were some things that were priority that had to be completed in a timely manner but my attitude for everything else was "if it doesn't happen today, it will tomorrow or the next or the next". And that was ok!
Well it was for two years until I moved back to New York, suffered from reverse culture shock for a whole twenty minutes, reminded myself where I was and then readjusted!
Now there is this clock in my head that never seems to run out of batteries. There is an anticipated time frame with which everything should be completed. If that email response does not come back within a few days, the censors send off multiple triggers in my head and rings the alarm.

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. - William Penn

Last month, I visited Italy for a few days and I was quite pleased about the three hour dinner ordeals! The waiters are not rushing you with the "here's the check but pay whenever you are ready" aka "you told me you didn't want anything else, so please pay and leave. The faster I fill your seats, the more tips I get!" I guess the Italians realized that if I wanted a quick meal, I would cook at home and then eat. Clearly, I am out dining for social purposes. I look forward to developing a more cyclical concept of time as I continue to value it but stress about it less.

“Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.”

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