Having been prone to workaholism since an early age, I spent many years feeling generally put upon, thus morally justified declaring, “I just don’t have time for (fill in blank here)!” By my mid-30s, I’d constructed a life of deadline-centric day job, teaching 3 nights a week and passionate-but-short, serial love affairs. I truly believed I didn’t have time…for anything beyond something or someone bringing me cash, admiration or orgasms. While I hope I was nice to the mortals in my life who were not providing me with one of these three entities, it’s likely that you heard, “I’m sorry, but I really don’t have time for ____” during the time you knew me. If you were lucky, I just ignored you. Did a lot of that back then, too.
Happily, my crazy workaholic life is something I let go of a few years ago. Once I’d given up my self-appointed role as the all-knowing, prepared for everything, Queen of (my) Universe, I began examining what I actually had time for. Having cancer really puts this into sharp focus. Here’s the list I’ve come up with, so far:
- I have time to be kind. Yes, it’s a hard old world. This doesn’t justify me being a hard old person.
- I have time to consider the feelings of others, even briefly, before ripping their head off for real or imagined mistakes or slights. Why? Because mending bridges takes even more time…and sometimes those bridges aren’t mendable
- I have time to show my appreciation to others, even for little favors. Sometimes we don’t have more than one chance, so why let that one chance slip away?
- I have time to really listen, not just pretend I’m listening while thinking my oh-so-important thoughts. I usually already know what I think. Why not find out what someone else has to say?
- I have time to truly enjoy the life I have left to enjoy. This doesn’t require a three week vacation in the Fiji Islands, it can take place during moments throughout any day.
- I have time to feel all my feelings, the good, the bad and the unreasonable. Life has taught me that putting them off forever and remaining sane are mutually exclusive.
Don’t get me wrong, I still thrive on deadlines, enjoy challenging projects as well as keeping up with our ever-changing technology. But, being obsessed only with the goal du jour, du mois or de l’année seems a sure way of frittering away the amazing gift we’ve been given to spend just as we choose: life.