I recently had great lesson passed along to me. I was late for a lunch date with my friend and instead of looking annoyed or impatient she seemed so serene. She's a Buddhist and I've long suspected them of being a little too happy, but I listened to her anyway. She said that time is a gift to be enjoyed and instead of being impatient, the way to look at it is to be thankful. If she was being ironic, she masked it pretty deftly as she said, "Thank you for the gift of time."
Lately, I think of time as a playful, flexible entity that changes its shape, texture and form as we change, and our relationship to time evolves. When you're a kid, time is either annoying and endless (lectures, Christmas Eve, and the last hour of school before summer break) or non-existent (amount of playtime between dinner and bed). There are moments in our lives when we don't even think about the passage of time. We are so absorbed in what we are doing, it vanishes and ceases to matter. Sometimes time can be irascible and petulant, playing tricks on you and taunting (when you have to stay up late for an exam). The busier we get, the more minuscule each moment seems. There are fewer and fewer of those 'annoying' and endless moments as we begin to work harder on the things that matter to us. But what if we look at those moments differently -- the bank line, traffic, the doctor's office, airport security -- the remaining ones that seem frustrating and long?
This was an epiphany to me because Blicky Kitty has a real problem with this. His wrath augments with every minute he is forced to wait. This poses a problem when we are out shopping, like we were just last week:
Blicky was getting a few supplies -- litter, salted cod, paper towels, caviar, batteries, plutonium -- and he got behind a family at the checkout. Immediately, I recognized the telltale eye-tick. I knew he was struggling to maintain his composure, and inwardly he was scrutinizing their every action and thinking. "How can you be so slow? How can anyone be that slow... and stupid. How long does it take to get your stupid credit card out. Why are you talking to the stupid checkout lady? Who cares how she's doing? You stupid, stupid nice lady...." Yes, outwardly Blick looks like your typical, sweet and cuddly bipedal cat, but he's not always nice about stuff.
The alarm bells ringing in his central nervous system were almost audible at that point. For Blick, it gets really extreme, so if you are a particularly gentle, gentle-reader, kindly avert your eyes and send the children away:
I'm sorry, I know.
I wish Blicky could just change his mindset. If you see me waiting in a line these days, I'm the one with the placid expression on my face (and quite possibly a homicidal feline in line behind me). How often do we just get to stand around and do nothing? For those blissful 5 minutes (usually less) there are no plates to clean up, kittens to cook for, work deadlines, and no obligations. All I have to do is just stand there and be. It is that precious moment of stasis between rushing to grab what I need, racking my brains to menu plan, and hauling 50+ pounds of groceries to and from the car. That, for me, is a gift.
Here is your mandatory fun: