This got me thinking. We need sleep, this is a fundamental requirement for us in order to live within the acceptable parameters of sanity. My research material touches on the point that even though we haven’t evolved a great deal over the last 200 years or so, we have in fact forced the world around us to evolve. We lead increasingly busy lives, and the act of sleep appears to have become a burden rather than something to look forward to and relish. We work/play/rest etc and only when it is deemed absolutely necessary do we give in to the inevitable sleep pattern usually once a day.
Sleep is as important to us as food/water/air/shelter and warmth. Without it we would eventually die. Yet it is always at the bottom of the to-do list, the last thing on our mind at the end of the day. I suspect that if a pill was developed that could eradicate the need for sleep without side effects, the pharmaceutical companies would become even richer than they are now. We either don’t want to or are unable to set aside a decent portion of the day for sleep. This concept leads me to my main point.
Have you noticed how there never seems to be much time? To some people time itself has become a type of entity or something you can touch and mould. Indeed there are a great many phrases related to time: “Killing time”, which I find to be an irksome thing for anyone to say. “Time flies when you’re having fun”, referring to a kind of slip from one time to another when you are enjoying yourself. “Time waits for no man”, again time being a tangible object that will not wait for anyone, tick tock tick tock.
Our lives are now so busy that time is at the forefront of almost every single facet of our existence. From birth to death every last detail of our life has been governed by time, seemingly more so in our modern world. Take a standard day as an example, and many will recognise this pattern:
- Wake – shower, get ready, quick as you can as you overslept (due to lack of sleep).
- Breakfast – eat without interest in what you consume so long as you eat something.
- Travel – move as quickly as possible to place of work/study.
- Work/Study etc – this activity is even split into time chunks for meetings, lessons, lectures, labour, breaks etc.
- Travel – get home as efficiently as possible.
- Leisure – managed with accuracy to obtain maximum benefit.
- Eat – the evening meal, enjoyed by some, simply required by most for body fuel.
- Sleep – the last thing to do, a chore to more than would admit to it.
We can disregard those who don’t work (for whatever reason), have a very different lifestyle that doesn’t fit the standard working day pattern. After removing the percentage of people from the overall list who do not view time the same as the standard human working drone, I believe we are left with a significantly high percentage of people who, given the chance, would gladly take more time if it were handed to them.
So, you work, you play, you take leisure time, you eat, you sleep, you holiday, socialise… and is that it? Is that all there is? I don’t think so. If we all stop and think about it, there is always something we would love to do if we had enough time. And it can range from the mundane such as finally decorating a room, walking the dog or reading a book, to the exciting like visiting far away places, learning to play the piano or speak a new language. A few examples which might stir up your own extensive list of things-I-would-love-to-do.
How many of us can lie on our death beds and not have any regrets? I truly wish it was a tiny percentage. So what is to blame? And can we place blame anywhere? I think we can. We blame ourselves, our race as a whole. We have pushed our world to a point where time is forced to a point where we consume it all just by existing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am avid fan of technology, gadgets, gizmo’s, the lot. But in our modern world we have an abundance of electronic paraphernalia that serves to swallow time in immense chunks. A few hundred years ago we didn’t have the alarm clock to call us into the morning, we didn’t have the mobile phone ringing and dragging us onto the next set of events. There was no speedy way of moving from one place to another like there is today. The pace of the world was slower. I can see how someone might comment on how maybe time is relative, and yes it is to a certain extent.
On the whole how many of us, whilst travelling, watch the scenery, read a book or talk to other people? We are planning what to do next instead of living in the moment. The world is hungry for us to make decisions. Planning is good but in 1720 (to snatch at a random date) the planning for a farmer would have been very different to one now, for example. He sewed his crops, managed his cattle, harvested his crops. Seems simple enough. Modern day farmers deal with so many more aspects as they are connected to the world in a multitude of ways.
The human race has surrounded itself with wide spectrum of technologies that on the whole keep us moving from one time segment to the next in an ever increasing spiral. Faster, better, smoother, easier and so on…our racial motto perhaps? Now I’m not saying we should abandon technology, but I do wonder how many of us actually enjoy or even thrive in the moment itself rather than considering the future. Some might argue that there isn’t enough time, but there is. You have an insanely short time on this planet and it should not be spent dashing from one event to the next without pause.
I guess my thoughts here are based around the use of time, how we travel through it and what we do to enjoy it. If you find yourself thinking: “there is never enough time” take a step back, it won’t kill you. Stop and look around you, let your mind, body and spirit snap back into position, live that one moment for what it is. A memory created specifically about that one single moment, and you will remember it more so than a meeting you had that morning because you are aware of slowing down, taking in the sights/sounds/smells around you, for better or worse.
Whilst travelling on a bus today I was planning the following events, thinking ahead to what will come. I was listening to music on headphones and the sun was hot through the window. I wasn’t paying attention to anything in particular other than the list inside my head. An elderly lady on the seat next to me dropped her bag and I bent down to pick it up for her. Just for a moment she looked at me with gratitude and said thank you. Not hearing her words, as I was listening to music, I smiled and nodded at her.
I removed my earphones and looked out of the window. There were tractors in the fields and birds swooping down snatching at the grain. I looked out across the countryside, the skies with patchy clouds, the buildings in the distance. I took it all in. Instead of feeling a slight sense on annoyance over the loud bus engine I listened to the roar and slight clank clank sound, and the sound of the man on the seat in front of me thoroughly enjoying a bag of sweets, the rustle of the packet in his hand.
All these things pass by every day, yet from that one momentary contact with the elderly lady I was aware of the world around me, of my own existence. It may seem like romantic slush or spiritual mumbo-jumbo but I felt centred and calm for a few minutes. I don’t have the capacity to describe what “being centred” is, someone else surely can, but I know that is what happened. The phrase and meaning fits the event. And no, it wasn’t a revelation and God didn’t speak to me!
I knew I had truly lived in that single moment. An unforgettable moment for me, one which I know now won’t be forgotten despite its everyday ordinariness. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone could do that just once a day or even just once every now and then? And be aware of it. If everyone could stow down, find their centre, thrive in that one pure moment before moving on, I think a lot more people would be happier for it.