Time is endlessly fascinating to me. When I was a little girl, vacations always seemed to go so quickly. I discovered that if I paid attention to the passing of time while I was on vacation, it didn’t seem to fly by so fast. I didn’t understand it then, but if I was mindful of the moment I was in and the passing of moment after moment, I felt like I almost had more “control” over time. This is something I realized at a very young age.
Human beings invented the clock, and the measurement of time. And it is quite an arbitrary thing actually. We are tricked into thinking that one second is a second, and 60 of them make up a minute, and 60 of those make up an hour, and so on. However, while that might be technically true, our experience of time can vary drastically.
Think about when you are having a great time, watching a movie or reading a book you love, or spending time with people you care about. Time feels like it passes so quickly.
Or remember when you were in school and sitting through a boring class? Didn’t one minute feel like an eternity? Now think about being a parent and having a mile-long To-Do List. How does time feel? I bet it feels like one hour is one second, right? Isn’t it intriguing how we experience time differently based on what we are doing and what frame of mind we are in?
Wanting more time
I was at a memorial service this past weekend for a dear friend’s daughter who died tragically at 19 years old. The service was achingly beautiful with incredible singers. Helping to make it a loving tribute. Also making it a loving tribute were the people who spoke about this young lady – her dad, two of her friends, her big sorority sister, her cousin, her brother, her teacher, and even the neurosurgeon who operated on her before she died.
The vast majority of her loved ones referenced time, and how they wish they had just a little bit more of it with her. With her being so young, everyone thought that time would go on endlessly. But that was not the case for them. In each person’s voice, I heard that painful tone of regret. Regret for not fully appreciating the moments they had with her. Regret for not being mindful of the passing of those moments or the present moment when they were in it with her.
Leonardo Da Vinci said that “time stays long enough for those who use it.” I would add one word to that – time stays long enough for those who use it mindfully.
Regret is an awful thing. When we are not mindful about time it passes without us noticing. Then we can find ourselves regretting that we let it slip through our fingers so easily without realizing it.
What can we do to buffer ourselves against that pain of regret?
We can practice tuning in to each moment of our lives, moment after moment. Whether the moment is experienced by us as pleasant or unpleasant. We can still be mindful of it and grateful for it. If we are enjoying reading a book with our child cuddled up under a blanket, we can tune in to that moment and feel gratitude for that moment in time. For the opportunity to share these moments with our child.
If our child is having a temper tantrum on the floor, we can still tune in to that moment and feel gratitude that our child is allowing that energy to be released from their little body. We can feel grateful that tantrums don’t last forever. And we can feel proud that we are holding the space to allow the emotion to move through them.
Experiences are always neutral. It is simply our mindset, belief or story around them that make them feel positive or negative. That in itself is a topic for a different blog. But for the purpose of this one, try tuning in to the present moment. No matter what is happening. See it, acknowledge it, allow it and BE PRESENT for it. I am convinced this is the way that we can avoid the deep pain of regret when a loved ones dies. Not only that, but being present to the moments of our lives is really the only way to actually LIVE our lives. This moment here is the only moment you will ever be in. Ever. You will never be in the past. You will never be in the future. This moment here is all there is.
Be mindful of it.
Be present to it.
And pay homage to it.