In my last post, I spoke about mindfulness and of the importance of being fully present. In this one, I’d like to focus on time. I don’t know about you, but for me, time has always generated a weight of anxiety… I mean, where is the balance between maximizing your time and learning to take time for yourself?

This dawned on me the other day, as I was enjoying my aperitif. If you’ve been reading me and following me this far, you must know that I’m in Italy, right? Well, among some of the habits of the locals, is to gather for an aperitif. In Italian villages, those are a handful of appetizers given with an alcoholic beverage ($ 6.50 Canadian for an Aperol Spritz with all the appetizers). 

So now that you can better understand the setting, let me explain what happened. I was there enjoying my aperitif on my own, while observing some of the locals and their many exclamations … you know… Italians! Little did I know, as I finished my drink and appetizers, I looked at the time and realized it had been only 15 minutes. 

Some of the locals who were there before me were still enjoying the same drinks and contemplating the same appetizers… I was done! What the hell! I don’t know how to take time to enjoy!  

Maximizing Time

Obviously, this situation triggered so many inner thoughts. How is it that I’m always struggling with time? I never have enough, I always end up wasting it and I don’t know how to enjoy it. 

Of course, every time I question something, life throws its load of knowledge upon me and I always end up reading or meeting people that sort of help my thought process. Let’s just say that God has fun showing me synchronicity at its best. 

I was reading this book which I fully recommend; Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard. The book’s final chapter is on “time”! Well… That came in handy! The core of the message was on the importance of maximizing our time to enable us to work more effectively in fewer hours. This will be the trigger that will enable us to make time for the things we really care about. There is much more he spoke about, but I’ll let you read the book! 

His description of time is so complete, and he truly is capable of generating a feeling of preciousness. We often think we will do things tomorrow, next week, or when we will retire. Reality is no one is eternal, and we have no idea of the timing of our final hour. 

Learning to Lose Time: “Il Dolce Far Niente”

I found his description of time to be so balanced. Brendon Burchard surely insisted on the importance of maximizing, but also on the necessity to enjoy. It felt weird, because back when I was in a religious community, guilt was the only possible companion of life’s enjoyment. 

I mean they kept reminding us of how Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus wrote all her works before she died at the age of 24 and let’s not talk about Saint Augustine! When did these guys sleep?

I am 41 years old, and am still dreaming of writing my novel… I’m far from these saints whom I truly admire. You see, I need sleep! Well, I need sleep and coffee! LOL!

But why would enjoying life need to be accompanied by guilt? Pedro Arrupe, s.j. says that praying is wasting time with God! Well, aren’t we all in need of wasting time to better love the world, our neighbour, ourselves? Isn’t wasting time a reward for our time management efforts?

You know what’s crazy? Not only did I read the last chapter of the book, but I also ended up meeting the landlords of my apartment. While going for a walk, they were sitting on a bench looking at people passing by. We started chit-chatting and of all things, the man said, “I don’t know how you people do it in Canada! I’ve been there to visit my family, you people have good income, but you only work… I prefer to live in Italy, I work, I own a few houses and I’m not doing anything!”  

Learning to Treasure Time

It’s nuts how such a simple sentence made me realize that balance is key. Indeed, the virtue is always in the middle, excess is never good! Yet, balance is so hard to find.

In a conference, the speaker asked a man in the crowd a simple question, “How many times do you visit your parents?” The shy man answered, “Two to three times a year.”

The speaker then explained a simple mathematical formula. Let’s say your parents have a life expectancy, in average, of another 10–15 years. That would mean you would only see them anywhere around 20 to 30 times before they die.

Indeed, when you put time into perspective, things change. You suddenly realize that you need to treasure these special moments and allow yourself to make the right choices. What’s are money and fame if they take up all your time, leaving you with none for your dear ones?

When I came back from Italy the first time, after living here ten years, I often gave the same response to the same question. People would often ask me what I missed the most about Italy. I guess they wanted to hear something like gelato or pasta. But I’d always give the same answer: time!  

Creating Time

Why did I miss time? How does this even make sense? Well, because living in Italy, I never had an agenda. “Il dolce far niente” came with this urge to fully live the present moment. Meeting friends and going for a coffee, for a drink or for a pizza was spontaneous, I did not need to schedule it. 

Just a walk to the cemetery was an endless route of encounters and “spuntini” (Italian word for a glass of wine and some sausage, cheese and bread). Whenever you’d go knock at someone’s door, it was always the right time. Never did I feel I was disturbing, on the contrary, I always felt I was expected. 

So yes, I miss time! I hate having to schedule in two weeks a supper with friends. I hate the back and forth of trying to find a date that suits everybody for a simple beer! I fell into the trap… I’m also a prisoner of this system. Where did our time go? 

I guess it’s a question of standing together in a firm resolution to create time! There will always be work to be done, there will always be things to do! There will always be more that could be done! Balance is doing as much as we can, while finding time to live!

Does this make sense to you? Please comment below … let me know what you think! Thank you for subscribing to my blog and for your faithfulness in reading me.