Delayed

Dear Keatsway,

I sit in a black leather plushy chair of an oversized waiting room. I am not sure when I’ll be done but I imagine it will be soon. Until then I’ll pass the time writing you a letter.

I’m in a car dealership (for repairs, not car buying), but if I blink I could be back at my gate in O’Hare. Except here there is free coffee–arguably not as good as Starbucks–and there are cars instead of airplanes on display.

Three weeks ago, en route from Toronto, I sat on a leather stool next to a rain splattered window drinking Argo tea, pen and journal in hand, looking out at aircraft carriers. I wished the moment could last forever. Someday soon I hope to be waiting in an airport on my way to see you. I have not, however, always felt this way about delays or waiting itself.

I feel like I am always waiting –to find my next apartment, to pursue my dreams, for the workday to be over, for the weekend to come, and then for the next weekend. Waiting for the answers to my increasingly long list of questions about the meaning of life, and learning to be OK with the space in between. The space where I act out several possibilities to my question, or sit back and wonder what my next move should be.

Waiting in an airport has no clear starting or ending point. You just can’t predict when the delay will happen and you have to be prepared to change plans and be flexible. To remain undeterred by a detour and not waste energy being angry or frustrated. To become creative and spontaneous with your time and your new plan of action.

After a year of plane delays I have finally discovered the secret to not becoming discouraged by them–accepting them completely, and finding a pleasant way to wait it out. Sometimes it’s as simple as staying nourished with healthy food, finding a quiet place to rest, discovering a new perspective, and seizing the opportunity to work on cherished pastimes–like reading or writing. Always ready to pick up everything at a moment’s notice when the plane finally does depart, and practicing patience and fortitude when it doesn’t.

As I put my plans of graduate studies, and living abroad on hold, I am trying to apply the same lesson I learned here. To decide not to waste energy on discouragement or resisting reality. Instead accept it as a necessary part of the process, embody grace and peace, and be inventive and endlessly flexible.

Maybe this delay is reminding me that it’s the journey and not the destination that counts? Keatsway, how do you handle delays?

Yours with best wishes,

Brightstar

The Time I Kill

TheTimeIKill

Dear Brightstar,

I  treasured your last letter Brighstar because it I know you are under a great deal of pressure. My own letter is written in response to your description of suffocating moments when you feel the weight of making decisions. It is  a few simple thoughts on how we judge our lives through hours but I hope it provides some stillness.

Time worries me constantly. There seem to be some many things I am waiting to do with my life. Projects and discoveries I am seeking to fit into my youth so I am prepared for the future. And a chorus of questions to accompany me. Am I working hard enough now to achieve everything I want to in life? Am I missing good hours here and now while I struggle for the future? How much is too much and at which point does worrying get redundant.

I know I am happier if not happy and better then I was a year ago (and a year before that). I am ageing and it is within the realm of possibility that with age I am getting somewhere. But its never so easy to convince oneself that we are spending our time well.

The time I kill is killing me. – Mason Cooley

The title of this page comes from a quote I keep above my desk (ostensibly to motivate my work). Thinking about hours as wasted can inspire us to action but I wonder more and more whether the stress and tension this mentality fosters makes me less productive overall. Downtime or “wasted time” seems to soothe me in a way I can’t do any other way. The less I rush myself the more I know and like myself.

We choose how we measure our time and then we judge these hours expecting it to be an appraisal of the trajectory of our lives. The divides we create, measured by these hours, are artificial but are strongly felt.

The truth is that time is probably exactly what we make it to be whether we choose friend, foe, companion or muse. When I tell myself I am behind time I am merely setting myself up to judge myself harshly. I wonder what I could have done in the past years with a different mantra.

So Brightstar, I leave you with all my love and support from across the ocean. I suggest you guard how you think about the issues you are in the midst of and watch how you perceive the hours in your life. How you choose to approach these questions may just determine how you feel forced to live. 

With my thoughts and good wishes,

Keatsway