read this if you feel like time is running out for you

January 10, 2017

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‘Moss is inconceivably strong. Moss eats stone; scarcely anything, in return, eats moss. Moss dines upon boulders, slowly but devastatingly, in a meal that lasts for centuries. Given enough time, a colony of moss can turn a cliff into gravel’ ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

There is a woman who runs past our window each weekday lunchtime, training, I imagine, for a charity climb of Kilimanjaro.

At the hairdressers last week, I endured a blow-by-blow account of a morning spent corralling four children to three different education establishments, from the woman in the next chair. The precise cut of her wool skirt matched her chic blonde bob; the calls she received on her mobile, suggest she also ran a successful business involving ‘imports’.

And even though I don’t want to do any of those particular things, sometimes I am deflated by the aliveness of other women.

The energetic sap they seem to have running through their veins; the extraordinary number of things they manage to fit into an average day.

I have noticed lately, that the immensity of a life lived at a full pace often leaves me feeling bereft.

It’s curious.

After Mum died I was so angry that at 53, her life ended when she was just getting started.

I think I unconsciously decided that if I had 20 years left, I was not going to waste a damn minute of it. In the decade since, I have just kept going, doing, achieving. I have prided myself on being impatient: this was my go-juice to get shit done. I soaked up the praise and admiration this seemed to engender.

But I’m starting to question this.

The pace of a life is not a reflection of its substance. And I know I have spent many years confusing the two.

It’s horrible to feel as though time is running out.

The thought that I am falling behind and there is no way I can catch up, creates a gut-clutch of anxiety that leaves me feeling panicky. And separate. If I believe I am ‘behind’ someone else, I feel that awkward discomfort of icky comparison. It’s the fastest way to erode any enjoyment of being in my own experience.

This time of year is like facing a mountainous tidal wave of motivational double-speak: it is both utterly our fault that our lives are not optimal, and the power to create such a life is utterly dependent on *this* magic solution. And we must act now!

This tsunami ignores privilege and circumstance, sweeps all excuses and protestations aside, leaving us alone on the shoreline, vulnerable to the judgement of our flabby human “failings”.

But what if none of this is true?

What if any sense of urgency about where you should be, is contrived?

What if no one is further ahead than you?

What if where you are, is perfect? Even if you are in the murky shitawful swamp of a life that doesn’t fit you anymore (how else would you know this, unless you were in that discomfort?)

What if nothing good, get’s away?

At our December meeting, our meditation teacher said we only ever have this moment. There was a brief pause just after he spoke, where ‘nothing’ happened.

And in the next moment, we were all laughing. Something imperceptible had changed in a second, it shifted the energy of the room. Something was created in that ‘nothing’.

I’ve found myself thinking about this a lot – that when we are content, relaxed, present, we are properly here. There is no lack, no missing out, nowhere else we should be. And in that energy, literally, anything can be envisioned, created, birthed.

I’m realising that when I am impatient, or comparing or believing I should be further ahead, I miss out on right now.

It’s no wonder feel so bloody bereft; I am grieving the loss of the moment.

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16 Responses to “read this if you feel like time is running out for you”

  1. […] read this if you feel like time is running out for you A gentle reminder in the same vein as the NYTimes piece above. ‘The pace of a life is not a reflection of its substance.’ […]

  2. […] · An important read if you ever have that nagging feeling that time is running out for you. […]

  3. Emme says:

    This was helpful. I spent many years sick, and I often feel like I am behind, and that because of that I probably won’t be able to do some things I’d planned. It’s getting easier, but some things still feel like a race, especially saving for retirement or having kids. I mean, at some point you’re to old to have kids, right? But I’m trying to slow down and be okay with be never happening, or with something not happening as planned (like retirement saving).

    • Sas says:

      Hey Emme – I’m so glad it helped! You know, the older I get, the less I believe that it’s too late to do anything – especially if we are unattached to the ‘how’.
      Conceivably, (ahem, bad pun) we could mother kids well into our dotage.
      Somewhat sychronistically, the innovative thinking required to come up with ways to fill our hearts desires, requires us to slow down and sink into imagining possibilities.
      And in my experience, anyone who has been sick for long periods has honed this to a fine art 🙂

  4. Flora says:

    Hi Sas,

    This is my first time reading your blog, and what a ‘first’ blog post to read indeed!

    You’re absolutely right – i’m committing “the pace of life is no relation to its substance” to my memory, and rather than engaging with my phone tonight, reading a chapter of the book I ‘should’ read or texting the people I ‘should’ reply to, I’m going to sit back on the sofa with boyfriend, flick through the TV and just enjoy it. Thank you for sharing this!


    • Sas says:

      Hello Flora – it’s lovely to meet you! I hope it takes you weeks to find this reply as you are far too busy enjoying your brilliant life 😉

  5. Shalagh says:

    I hand you back a thank you for the validation of reading this. I was sooo there not even two years ago. The striving , the busyness, the devastating comparison. Therapy, learning where my anxieties come from, letting go of caring what others think, learning my coping mechanism was industrious overfocused, being here now with myself, my life and my kids before they shoot out the door. My happiness is all that counts. And it shows up slowly and when you’re ready in the very way you need it. Every time. So sorry you lost your Mom so soon. I am 50 now. I can’t imagine. I also am not too close or fond of my Mom so you have that to remember always. You will not be repeating her early exit I have a feeling. Thank you again Sass for your honest well-written wisdom always.

    • Sas says:

      There is so much to be said for learning where our anxieties and fears come from isn’t there?
      I’m so glad you figured that out too – how lucky your kids are 🙂
      Love seeing your name in the comments xxx

  6. Sara says:

    God this is everything. Now I don’t want to leave this moment, sitting here with a cup of tea and feeling like everything is going to be ok.

  7. Sarah says:

    I enjoyed reading this so much. What if any sense of urgency about where you should be, is contrived? Yes! It unlocks freedom, joy, ease. Bliss.

  8. Moira says:

    Hi Sas
    As always, your words make me “think”. As I now reach 26 years of widowhood, 7 years of Divorce. Two beautiful grown children carry me along on their coat tails and I can, at last, after much soul searching say I fell apart, but survived. I watch my friends running with their busy
    lives. I love that I have found my work life balance. I enjoy others successes, I don’t envy their long days and late evenings. I am at last comfortable just where I am.
    At last!

    • Sas says:

      Those numbers add up to the life of a warrior! You more than survived – you turned some of the crappiest, saddest lemons life could hand you, and you turned them into something beautiful. Your words just ooze contentment – wonderful xxx

  9. Debra says:

    Sas this is just perfect!

    I love “What if where you are, is perfect? Even if you are in the murky shitawful swamp of a life that doesn’t fit you anymore (how else would you know this, unless you were in that discomfort?)” A life that doesn’t fit anymore is a perfect description of where I am at…just a simple statement of fact, no sadness or anxiety or fear or panice about that, just a fact – I can handle facts – how comforting! Thank you xxx