It’s a interesting situation I sometimes find myself in.
The thought that there are so many things I could technically choose to do with my time now…this very moment…and say, the “6,400,099,980 moments” that occur in one day according to Zen Master Dogen (I was reminded of this concept of Buddhist moments based on one of my favourite books A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki). Of course, the unit of time we’re more familiar with is that of seconds, minutes and hours. So just thinking, in the 2 hours/120 minutes/7200 seconds that I have starting now, what would be the best way of making the best use of my time? Sometimes that question simply tires me out. I suppose I’ve become prone to thinking about things very broadly these days (and thinking back, maybe in the past 1-2 years or so since I’ve started trying to focus on enriching the mind and soul a little more) so much so that in my mind’s eye, I zoom out and see that this is a recurring theme symbolic of our entire life. What should I do in order to make the best use of my time in this life? And the amazing thing is that when faced with a multitude of finite options, I feel myself getting almost paralysed. Based on where I am in my life right now, I’m blessed to have time off from work to be able to explore my interests. My main aim now would be to delve into all sorts of creative interests that have been building up inside of me since the start of the year and used to be so much like an overflowing kettle of boiling water, fighting all the time against time constraints when I was working that any little bit that flowed out into the world felt like such a catharsis. Without the constraints of work now, what follows is the blessing of being able to have free time to myself… but also the guilt that comes when it seems that time is not well spent/spent in the ‘best’ possible way, whatever that may be. Which is a crazy thing, isn’t it? Anyone looking in on my circumstances would say, get a grip, stop whining and just start doing what you’ve been planning to do for the longest time. But these thoughts do occur. And I think it was Alain de Botton who said that it’s not that we think too much, but that we think badly. On days like this, I can’t help but feel he is such a wise, wise man.
I remember feeling that sort of anguished guilt last Monday, when there was so much I actually wanted to do but in the period between breakfast and D leaving for work in the morning until he came back at about half past 12 for lunch, I’d ended up not quite accomplishing fully anything I’d wanted to do. I’d done a bit of tidying and cleaning which always takes longer than expected. I’d revised a bit of my Japanese in preparation for a placement test. And I’d read a little bit of the non-fiction book I’d been immersed in. But nothing to the extent that I felt I’d really made some headway in. Was it because there was that background anxiety I had over many things that I wanted to do such that when I was involved in one thing, I couldn’t fully concentrate and would worry if there was enough time for the next? So much thinking, but hardly anything that felt constructive.
Looking back, the next few days were much better. I’d managed to ‘get some things done.’ Finally managed to find a place in a Japanese-German centre in order to continue my studies in Japanese. Went for tea class and was able to learn a little more and practise with my lovely classmate T. Then on a pretty much last minute whim, went to join my close childhood friend and her mum and family friend in Paris for the weekend, which was really amazing. (And more on that in an upcoming post)
Now that I’m back and settled into day to day life, I’m grateful and happy to be able to relax again finally. I crave afternoons like these which stretch out long into the evening with nothing planned that I need to do, except that which I would like to do. But with the freedom of time comes the guilt of not having spent that time doing that which I expect myself to do. It’s almost as if it’s yet another side to this puzzle of time… or of experiencing time.
Then I resurface from this quagmire of thoughts, and realise that… this is life. In all its beauty… its incomprehensibility. Let me bring myself back to being able to experience everything that life has presented to me, starting from this moment, right now.
And everything is beautiful again.