Takes a Village / Community / Tribe
by Cheryl Rompa
Imbolc 2004, Vol 3-2
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Magazine for Goddess Women Near & Far
Are you a slave to time? Do you ever want to throw out your PDA, your schedule book or your phone? How does time management affect us, and our communities? Is time something we should even be managing? These and many other questions have been boggling my mind for months now and have caused havoc with my emotions. I've gone from anger and rage to hopelessness, and then finally to hopefulness. This topic can be very emotionally charged for even the most even-tempered of us.
In Leo Buscaglia's book, Living, Loving and Learning, which contains many of his famous lectures, he writes, "I think the second big thing about a loving individual is that [s]he frees [herself] from labels. You know, [wo]man is an incredible creature, really incredible. [S]he does wonderful things. [S]he has a marvelous creative mind. [S]he created time but then was ruled by time."
Time is that social construct we have learned to use to measure change. I'm sure at some point our ancestors looked up in the sky and noticed that the moon and stars and sun changed as they watched. Then they noticed how the plants and animals changed and grew old and died. And if they left the berries out for too long they rotted and the nuts lasted longer if they were stored in a cool dark place. Harnessing the passing of time has always been a challenge for humankind. So when did we decide to label time? When did we decide that it's noon so I must eat lunch even though I'm not hungry. Many cultures have found just as many different ways to measure time. What I want to explore here is this: What is time, really? Isn't time just another form of energy movement? And if time is energy then where are we putting our energy?
Recently at a gathering of many friends I had not seen for awhile I heard time and again how many of the women missed each other and wished they had more time together. Last summer when my coven broke up, one of the members made the statement, "We seem to have enough juice to love each other but not to get together." I've been wrestling with that statement ever since. I believe that love is a verb and requires action. When we love someone we are delighted to be around them, we make space in our lives for them and look forward to seeing them whenever possible. It seems to me that if time is required for a loving relationship then it's important that we be evaluating where our time and energy go.
I'm very concerned
about where we are spending our time and as always when I am troubled
by something I first do a personal evaluation to see where my part of
the problem lies. In this evaluation, I was faced with the fact that sometimes
days go by without me connecting with my friends and family. Sometimes
I go to bed at night and wonder where all the hours went. (Of course I'm
more apt to remember what I didn't accomplish than to give thanks for
what a wonderful day I am just leaving, but that's another subject.)
If our job is about caring for others we can easily get burned out because our pay compensation is less than what others get and the hours are long and exhausting. Caring for humans isn't valued as much as producing a perceived needed item for consumption. Often working in human services requires less training than working with machines or computers. We spend less time preparing for jobs in childcare and care of the sick, disabled, and elderly than we do working with virtual money in the stock market. We have a culture that is driven by consumption and doesn't value human connection.
So how does this affect our spiritual communities?
Following the thought that time is energy, and we as witches are all about moving energy, what can each of us do to move that energy toward a loving connectedness of human beings? What if we decided we would rather work fewer hours and do without a new car every other year or that newest ritual item we have our eye on? What if we spent at least 40 hours a week with our loved ones and our jobs were whatever was needed to keep a roof over our head, good nutrition in our bellies and a purpose to our actions? Or our jobs could be to learn something new every day and share that with others. Or maybe we are blessed with a talent or a skill to make stories or art or music, and instead of putting that dream on the shelf because it doesn't pay we don't let anything stop us from our passion to create.
Oh, I know what you're saying; it's gotten to be so hard that many of us are working to barely make ends meet now. I know that our culture's mania of consumption is seductive. It's easy to think that lack of time is the whole problem, but what if, out of curiosity, we saw that this "problem" was a decision we were making? What if each time we put in overtime at the office or come home exhausted from work, we recognize we made the decision to do it?
We are not victims to our schedule books and our PDAs. We've learned what time is, and what we've learned can be unlearned and relearned to include many more hours being with the people we care about and doing the things we love. So instead of time management, let's relearn our thinking about time. Start small and think about giving yourself the gift of:
All the time in the world . . .
Imagine a world with time to breathe slowly each morning. Imagine what we might notice as we move through the universe, paying attention to each life experience. Imagine how wonderful it would feel to be in our healthy bodies as we walk carefully over the new snow. Remember when you were a child and every snowflake held the wonders of the universe and you didn't stop looking at each unique shape until your fingers were numb and your lips had turned blue?
The fact that I can relearn the meaning of time and time management gives me hope. I am so grateful that I can make the choice to call my friend and catch up on her life. I can notice the other people with me in the elevator or the grocery store line and use that encounter to connect with them, and for few moments we share an experience and each experience is a change. Some of these experiences are less profound than others but they're experiences just the same. Over time these are the experiences that make up our relationships and the changes that influence the way we live and love in our lives. Even in my disappointments in life, I see that time is not for me to manage but for me to experience; to be as fully alive as I can be, and for each of us to give divine attention to every moment of each passing minute of our time spent here together.
I no longer attempt to manage my time, I am relearning that time is about change and I figured out a long time ago that the only thing we can count on is that everything will change. I am changing even as I write this article. I hope that when you are reading this you are changed also.