What Irma Taught Me About the Passage of Time
The past week has been surreal. About a before, we were on vacation and I saw that a huge hurricane could be coming our way. I calmly made reservations at a La Quinta because they took pets… just in case.
Over the week, things kept shifting. I worried every day that we should leave but it was getting later and later. I was fighting a lot with my fiancé over the decision to leave. Over the weekend, it became real. We were in Irma's path and it was such a large and powerful storm that I was sure we had a 50/50 chance of surviving.
Things got crazier and crazier. My fiancé, who has previously not been worried became anxious. Then there was nothing else to do. We had prepared as much as we could. There was nothing else to put up and nothing else to buy. The stores had run out of supplies. We had a ton of food, great led lanterns, a grill, hotdogs, go-bags packed, dog crates, etc. At this point, I would normally start reading or writing, doing my thing. Why not make it productive time, right?
But I couldn't. What I couldn’t do was focus on anything else. I wanted to catch up on my saved articles but I couldn't. I now had time to work on my business but I couldn't bring myself to doing any work. I realized that much of what I do is based on the future and assumptions. Business planning, travel planning, wedding planning. All things that are based on a good and predictable future.
I couldn't do any of these things because I wasn't sure what kind of future I had after the storm. Would we survive? If we did survive, would our lives change drastically after the storm? Would we have a home? Would our friends and family be OK?
Earlier that day, I had received a package of wooden flowers that I am using for our wedding that I wanted to spend some time arranging. But that felt like a useless activity considering that the next day, we might be holding a mattress over our heads to save our lives. What if we couldn’t even get married?
Over the past few years, I've been working a lot on mindfulness and calming the mind. It's been a journey of learning to be at peace and enjoying the quiet. But I realized that I still very much live for the future. And I wonder how much I actually enjoy the current moment, ever. I know I have my moments but I realized I have a lot of work to do still to truly be in the moment.
I remembered an article that as stuck with me, How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives. I recall thinking that I don't spend my days doing anything that I love. That I look to the few times a year that I travel to enjoy myself. It was a sad discovery. So I sought to spend more time taking care of myself.
I am still working on my morning routine and doing Yoga a little more consistently. It's a great achievement for me. My business is moving along nicely and I am productive at work and in my business. I have low stress most of the time. But am I doing something I love each day?
During the storm, the only thing I could bring myself to do was write down the things that I do love (in no particular order):
- Be in nature
- Be at peace - meditate
- Learn, read, write
- Teach others
- Be with friends and family
- Be with fiance
- Spend time loving my pets
How much of my day do I spend doing any of this?
I recently told my niece that if I am lucky, I have about another 40 years to live. And she says -- wow, that's a lot of time! She's 24 :-) And then I tell her, that is nothing. It'll go by before I know it! But it actually is a lifetime, isn't it? It reminded me that it wasn't whether it was 2, 5, 10, 20 or 40 years that was important. What was important was HOW I lived my years.
A few days of fear of dying reminded me that I really need to start living. We were lucky, extremely lucky. The hurricane only caused minimal damage around us and we never even lost power. But I will take the gift of Irma as a reminder that I need to do the things that I love daily in order to have a life that I love.
Do you spend your days doing what you love?
"The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet." - Annie Dillard