“The greatest, most prized excuse for a writer is the lament over our lack of time in which to write. It is a false and paper-thin defense against another more difficult, underlying dynamic: the inability to have the will to find the time. … The sober truth is that any of us can find the time to write a book, no matter the schedule of unstoppable events in our life. Finding the part that wants to write the book is a different matter altogether.”
From “The Three Marriages”
For the past several weeks, I’ve listened to myself make excuses about my life, blaming lack of time for things that I find unsatisfying or incomplete. After hearing the words come out of my mouth yet again, I finally decided to take a hard look at my “time.”
It comes as a surprise to no one that time is a very relative, qualitative experience. While each of us are giving the same number of minutes in a day, each day is broken up into moments — moments that can be exquisitely brief or achingly tedious.
Within this stretchy framework, we then layer work, the commitments we must keep, the rhythm of sunrise and sunset and the natural ebbs and flows of our own energy. And on top of all of that, there is the story we tell about why some things fell through that framework, while other things didn’t.
I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’ve blamed it on lack of time. But the reality is that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, and I was unwilling to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to figure it out. Time has slipped through my hands, leaving me frustrated with myself and surprisingly bereft.
For someone who writes — even if it is only a journal — words encapsulate experience. To write about an event is to make it real, even if it is only a small, skewed perspective. By describing what happened, what it felt like, what it meant to me, I articulate and acknowledge my experience of the world.
When I don’t make time to write, I’m shrinking my very life.
In the section of “The Three Marriages” from which I took the passage at the top, Whyte speculates that, had Jane Austen not been disappointed in marriage, she wouldn’t have had the space and time to write the novels that so many of us love so much. Only from the removal of spinsterhood could she observe the interplay around her and recreate it in such exacting detail on the page. Only when her hopes of matrimony and motherhood were gone, could she carve out the time to create her life’s work. While the thought of the loneliness in her life stirs up sadness in my own heart, I recognize the truth of what Whyte says.
And so, the elasticity of time requires a give and take. While a moment can stretch to encompass laughter and delight, at the same time there will always be more to do than we have time to do it. We must find our way through the give and take of being focused on goals while also being in the moment. When our lives don’t look the way we want them to, it is not for lack of hours or minutes. It is for lack of desire. In the end, what is accomplished reflects what we truly want.Photo taken by me with an iPhone and doctored up with Snapseed.