Time Flies (And How to Keep Up)

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Recently, I've observed that the "real" world works on a different time schedule than the instant-gratification mindset that seems apparent or inherent to younger generations. Time is flexible. I can download a song from iTunes in less than a minute. I walk across the street to the grocery store for midnight snacks. I frequent drive-thru fast-food restaurants. Events are measurable down to the minute or even second. In our culture, if we want something, there's a good chance that we can get it almost immediately. That's not always the case.

I would love for this to be a post about relativity and time dilation, but this is not the time nor place for that. I want to talk about how we relate to time in different seasons in life. I surmise that when we have fewer responsibilities, time seems slower. When we have more on our plate, time seems faster. 

When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.
— Albert Einstein

This idea first struck me the summer after my freshman year when I worked at Lake Forest Ranch (LFR). I was talking to Chad Chapman, the assistant facilities manager, about a potential project when he asked, "What time is it? August?" I thought it was so bizarre that he related with months of the year as his smallest frame of reference for time. 

Let's fast forward to today. Now, I'm a senior in college taking classes, working at the Choctawk, holding an internship position, and participating in various extra-curricular activities. My life is a whirlwind of moving elements carefully orchestrated to fit into a schedule that cycles weekly. On busy days, there is not a minute to waste, so I pack my bag with what I'll need for night class before I head out the door in the morning. On these days, I need to move with machine-like precision and a brisk walking pace to be on time to things.

The salient motif that arises from these examples is that the pace of our schedule can determine how we perceive time. When I lived in the woods at LFR, life was more relaxed, and I had weekly deadlines. At school, things move much faster, and I plan my meetings down to the half-hour. Regardless of our circumstances, we need to be prepared to adapt.

So how do we adapt? How does one keep up with the rush of life? This is the part of the blog where I'll put in a personal plug for you to buy a calendar and write down EVERYTHING. I'll also refer you to the sage words of my coworkers, Mary and Ashton. For a blog about prioritizing based on what is important to you, read The Myth of Being Involved. For a blog about having healthy limits in life, read The Art of Boundaries.

Every week, I sit down with my internship supervisor. We discuss the previous week and set goals for the future. He often encourages me to "create a paper trail" to keep up with the work that I have done over the semester. At first this seemed excessive, but now I understand that it protects me from being lost in the vortex of time and the hurried measure of the spring semester. If I don't write it down, there's a good chance that I'll absentmindedly pass it over when I try to remember. As the weeks and months elapse to create a semester, I am thankful that I was encouraged to document my progress along the way.

In closing, I'd like to share with you an uplifting thought that my professor offered as an aside during a history lecture. On Leap Day (There's a fun element of time for you), Dr. Pickett encouraged our class to press through things that may seem mundane. He said, "Most of life is not exciting. It will be boring and routine. And it will be okay."  He followed up with the reassurance that we can make an impact by being consistent in our future jobs and ongoing walk with the Lord. 

I could add a trite platitude about how seasons of life come and go, but you already know that. (Solomon spoke about "a time for ___" in Ecclesiastes 3.) We can not live in an instant-gratification mindset. We need to work hard over a period of time to do the things that matter.

Until next time,

Andrew, Senior Blogger, Hot Tub Regular, Macaroni and Cheese fan. 

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