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The Ticking Clock

I've often felt out of step with our time-pressured, outcome-measuring society, and never more than now. 

I find myself at the end of cashier's lines, as the next person's items start piling up before I've packed and removed my bags. I feel slow as I put away my receipts, while quickly around me the world speeds on.

Today I went through a Tim Horton's drive-through and the Tim's card I had loaded with $20 the week before, registered no cash, due to some kind of issue that I will resolve, but in the meantime I needed to pay for the tea I had ordered. After only a few seconds of searching, since I carry and use little cash anymore, the cashier waved me through without having to pay. I have a feeling that had to do with the fact that I was holding up the line behind me. 

Later on I went to pick up some colour swatches from our local paint store as we are painting our kitchen and bathroom. I had a list of colour numbers, as I had done some homework on the store's website, and was doing fine in finding swatches I'd chosen. I had been there less than a minute, I am sure, when a middle-aged man approached me with an intense and intrusive gaze saying, "I can help you find what you're looking for a lot faster."

I politely declined his help, but he persisted, "If you just call out the numbers I can get them." 

Why? I thought to myself, but, "They are all right here," I said, gesturing towards the display in front of me, as if I needed to explain. Thankfully he backed away.

I left the store with my selection, wondering why the whole world seems to be in such a hurry. 

Workers these days in all kinds of industries seem to have quotas that are measured. The motions with which they work are studied and analysed because time equals money. You can see the subtle cues everywhere in the smooth methodical ways every process in commercial businesses run, which isn't completely a bad thing except maybe the underlying premise is.

Should money be the prime value driving our society? Care for the elderly, is carried out by workers who have only time to do essential care tasks but have no time to interact--no time to listen or converse for they are being watched and pressured to do more in less time. No wonder they find this stressful as they chose that field because they care for the people they work with on a human level. People need more than food and bathing in order to survive. We cannot forget this.

Years ago when I began working with people with disabilities, they taught me that rushing was counter-productive--and would often result in much more time spent than if I had been patient and supported someone at their own pace in the first place. One of the gifts in my continuing friendships with people with disabilities is the slower pace with which they regulate the world around them, to good effect.

After years of trying to do more in less time, my time related goals now include trying to be more "in the moment" and to do one thing at a time, rather than multi-tasking. 

Let's go counter-culture, be okay with slowing down--write a real letter or note to someone instead of an email; lose track of time with a friend; really listen to that voice at the end of the phone--and have patience with the world around you if things aren't going as fast as you'd like. 


Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time. 
Margaret Bonnano 


Leslie said…
Love this.
I have to admit that it is natural for me to rush and to multi task and to sometimes want to hurry others along for the sake of efficiency - especially feel that pressure at work - however I have been trying to learn to slow down and honour others - not just in the tasks of the "doing", but in the gift of presence and time. So thank you for the reminder and affirmation that I do not need to give into the demands of the pressure to keep to the crazy pace and that value is in the person not just the numerous tasks!

Janet Martin said…
amen! I prefer homemaking to house-keeping! House-keeping is when I dash about jotting chores from my must-do list. Home-making is slow and deliberate and full of little love-touches! Thank-you SO much for writing my heart here!
Belinda Burston said…
Oh, Janet, kindred spirited sister--I'm with you! And I love your example of the difference between housekeeping and homemaking. After I wrote the post, I thought about a poem we read in public school. It's by W. H. Davies and is titled, "Leisure." I wondered if it had influenced me subliminally. :)Here it is:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Belinda Burston said…
Nicole, my artist friend, I so understand the pressure of this season of life that you're in. By nature you would not rush, but the world we live in is so driven. Studies I've heard about recently are saying that people are actually more productive when they get adequate rest and breaks. I wouldn't be surprised if that's true.
Sherry Stahl said…
I love what you've written. Sadly I'm one of those multi-tasking rushers. It's a struggle within to slow down. I want to make sure I master this before chaos masters me. Thanks for your words of wisdom shared.
~Sherry Stahl
Belinda Burston said…
Thank you for pausing long enough to read, Sherry. Busyness is easier to lament than fix. Ask me how I know. :)

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