I was told from childhood that I was slow, dreamy, lost, off in the clouds. In fact, I was scolded frequently for being late to elementary school, only a short walk away. It was worse in high school where the walk was longer and up a steep hill.
Then when I chose hypnotism for the birth of my first child, the trained medical doctor tried to get me to throw away pain. Nope. No deal. My brain balked at the idea. Escape to somewhere I’d rather be. Easy, Peasy. Off I went to real places I loved and to places I imagined and wished to see. After all, I was a dreamer, writing in my head from early elementary age.
But here is where I excelled. The doctor used the same time frame to have me think about something sad or hard and something joyful and fun. Then I had to tell him how long each lasted. Guess what, sad and hard time was closer to accurate but still less time than on the clock. And the joyful, fun, good thoughts and memories or plans lasted way longer than the time on the clock. He rechecked. He told me I had no sense of time, no inner sense of how long things took or lasted. I listened, internalized, and shrugged. I was only 19. I’d been scolded all my life for not seeming to know what others knew about time. No surprise there.
As I grew older, especially once I entered the work world, I often had this uneasy, tense, worried sort of feeling inside. It was like a chronic low level of anxiety. I did not recognize my way of coping with the puzzlement of time. I would set goals at work, guess at how long it would take, stay as many hours as needed to check everything off my task list, and usually put in 10-11 hour days. I was known as being highly productive. When employees grumbled that I expected more than possible in the time frame I gave, I frowned. Then I had an employee whose work speed was amazing. See, she could do it, so what was the problem with everyone else?
Retirement should have meant more free time but it hasn’t. I tend to over crowd my over large platter. Accomplishing 12 hours of work in six seems reasonable to me or it did. That changed recently. I was upset that a loved daughter did not provide an answer to me in my time frame.
I had emailed her and then within hours felt my anxiety rise. Where was she? Why hadn’t she answered. I’d been waiting for days. I wanted to get on with my plans and she was holding me up. I was short in a comment to her.
Then something made me look at the calendar and wonder how long had I really been waiting. I have calendars and clocks all over the house. This time I stared at the nearest calendar and rechecked my email to see when I’d sent the original email. It felt like weeks to me but it was less than two days.
I asked my best buddy, my spouse, to sit and listen to me. I shared what it feels like to never feel sure of exact time, day or date. I am usually on time for appointments because I check the clock every few minutes. And I do manage to know the month most of the time.
So I asked my best buddy, how often I asked him to tell me the time, the day or the date? Plenty of times. He gave a patient smile.
Wow! I am often impatient and annoyed at other people who suggest I have unreasonable expectations and unachievable deadlines. I stress my spouse. And I increase my own stress. I can never finish all the tasks on my daily list. I am always behind, even when I stick with it for 10 hours. Big sigh.
I don’t think I’ll gain a sense of time after 70 plus years on earth but I do think I am going to scale back my own list of goals and deadlines. I do hope that God will help me as I am praying about this. I want to be kinder and more understanding of people serving with me in organizations and on committees. I want to hear my spouse laugh more than sigh because I keep wondering why he hasn’t managed to accomplish a week’s worth of tasks in a few hours. And to be honest, I’m relieved to finally figure this out and hoping this new understanding will make a positive difference.
Here’s an eternal truth. All time is a gift of the Lord. I need to treat it that way and thank God for every day rather than praying to get through my too long task list. Might be accidentally worshipping my schedule and organization rather than the Lord.
Are you a person with a strong sense of time or do you struggle too? Just wondering.