Yes, another night when I had trouble sleeping, but instead of fighting it, I decided to lean into it, respect the quiet, still moments as bonus time for reflection.
After all, I don't want to waste a minute, not one minute, but wasting time means something different than it used to mean. I am not as concerned about being productive, about doing, about achieving, about fulfilling hopes and dreams, about striving. None of that is wrong. I don't want to imply that, for those years of high activity and productivity were good years.
New Definitions of Wasted Time
Not wasting time now, however, has more to do with savoring time. It means slowing down, in order to appreciate every moment, discerning the flavor and taste and nuance of every moment, and being in time, rather than racing through time because there is so much to do. Again, I hasten to add that this is in no way a criticism of or regret about those years, the way I lived them or the way I see our children squeezing the potential from every day. We need their energy and motivation and passion.
This is a time of different choices. Not wasting time is actually more similar to how I used to think about wasting time or perhaps more accurately, how I viewed "down time." Now "down time," is not a reward, but part of the rhythm of my day: sitting quietly reading, napping, observing life from our windows, such as the little girl who is allowed to come on her small bike only as far as our house and the two girls across the street learning how to rollerblade. I take a deep cleansing breath and feel the breeze coming in the windows or without thought drive the long way home along Minnehaha Parkway after visiting my Dad or spontaneously watch a DVD with a friend and then decide to watch another one just because we can. I relish a leisurely lunch with my sister, and I eagerly await the arrival of my husband after his 4-day work week in Madison. Each moment is a treasure.
I love having a much smaller home to tend now, and I even have had my hair cut short again, not wanting to spend time washing and blow drying and fixing and fussing with it. That is the kind of wasting time I no longer want to do.
Ongoing Issues with Time
Now here's the dilemma. I am not completely angst free about time, this time in my life, by any means. The majority of my time in recent months has been devoted to healing my broken ankle, and that will be ongoing for some time, but isn't it time to start using my time in additional ways? For example, I love writing these twice-weekly blog posts and knowing my blog is read and valued by many, but I have not done much to spread the word and increase my audience. Shouldn't I invest in making that happen?
I love to write and have so many ideas stored or started. Shouldn't I be in my sweet garret more being the writer I think I am? I love meeting with people who are exploring their spirituality and want to intentionally deepen their relationship with God. Shouldn't I actively pursue ways to grow my work as a spiritual director? I love facilitating groups and have a number of ideas about groups I would like to form--a writing group, a group for women exploring life in retirement, a spirituality group for women. Shouldn't I take steps to make these groups a reality?
I think the answer is "yes" to all of the above, but I am more willing to let the steps unfold than to make a specific timeline. I don't have a bucket list, but I do have hopes about living as the person I was created to be. Instead of multi-tasking--how many things can I do at once--my intention is to live fully one moment, one wasted moment, at a time.
Quiet Middle of the Night Time
When I was younger and had sleepless nights, I was awake because I was worried or anxious or was sorting through or planning how to do everything on my list the next day. Now often when I can't sleep, I am full and I need to empty, to clear the space. I need to meditate to soften the edges of the day, as good as it was, to let it live and not be held too tightly, to pray for all those who are currently touching my heard and mind.
Being awake in the middle of the night may be the most precious form of wasting time. Instead of resenting the interrupted sleep, can I embrace that time, especially since I no longer have as many scheduled events during the day and don't have to be ready for as much action and involvement. Can I savor the quiet of house and street and allow myself to absorb that quiet myself? Can I open to those unplanned moments until I return to bed and find further rest? May it be so.
How do you "waste" time? Have your thoughts about time and how you use time changed over the years? Do you have sleepless nights? If so, what is your attitude about them? I would love to know.