I was asked for one thing that brought me pleasure today. Without hesitation I proclaimed, “the beauty of autumn leaves.” If memory is reliable I don’t recall so much colour at this time of year. Each morning this week I walked the same loop in my neighbourhood and was deliriously overjoyed with what I saw. Because the time is getting short to enjoy this beauty, I chose to make it my priority even if it meant being late for other things. I also knew that I couldn’t count on those leaves being there tomorrow. And the other things would get done.
The seasons are now a priority for me because I can realistically see that the number I have left are shrinking. So, I blame (credit) Oliver Burkeman for neglecting my “work” and getting outdoors.
Here is an excerpt from his book, which inspired me:
“…(in speaking about purchasing something) if something feels like a priority now, it’s virtually impossible to coolly assess whether it will still feel that way in a week or a month. And so we naturally err on the side of spending—then feel bad later when there’s nothing left over to save.
The same logic…applies to time. If you try to find time for your most valued activities by first dealing with all the other important demands on your time, in the hope that there’ll be some left over at the end, you’ll be disappointed. So if a certain activity really matters to you—a creative project, say, though it could just as easily be nurturing a relationship, or activism in the service of some cause—the only way to be sure it will happen is to do some of it today, no matter how little, and no matter how many other genuinely big rocks may be begging for your attention.
After years of trying and failing to make time for her illustration work, by taming her to-do list and shuffling her schedule, Jessica Abel saw that her only viable option was to claim time instead—to just start drawing, for an hour or two, every day, and to accept the consequences, even if those included neglecting other activities she sincerely valued. ‘If you don’t save a bit of your time for you, now, out of every week,’ as she puts it, ‘there is no moment in the future when you’ll magically be done with everything and have loads of free time.’
This is the same insight embodied in two venerable pieces of time management advice: to work on your most important project for the first hour of each day, and to protect your time by scheduling “meetings” with yourself, marking them in your calendar so that other commitments can’t intrude. Thinking in terms of “paying yourself first” transforms these one-off tips into a philosophy of life, at the core of which lies this simple insight: if you plan to spend some of your four thousand weeks doing what matters most to you, then at some point you’re just going to have to start doing it.”
And that is exactly what I started on Nov 1st. Walking every morning and appreciating the beauty in my neighbourhood is a priority. There is never time left over.
What is a priority of yours that you don’t make time for? When once again I made a realistic and heartfelt plan of my priorities I also discovered that I have more to do than can be done. This becomes a form of radical acceptance where I realized I can’t possibly do everything I want to do. So what more needs to come off my list? And along with that is the simple truth that there will be things left over at my departure. As I look at the bookcase facing my computer I see the many books that will be unread. Yet, I will always have too many books. This is part of my blueprint.
And the challenge of picking and choosing may be something like “is it as important as my books? Or, is it as important as being outside enjoying the beauty of nature and moving my body? Is it as important as being with my friends and family?” Priorities change as we live a long time. Our awareness of time changes. Creative endeavors loom much larger in my life now than they did 20 years ago. I am so curious about this end zone. And I want to make time for it.
I also want to show you a few photos of my walk this morning, in gratitude for the pleasure they gave me. It is the variety that takes my breath away, on a morning in November in the Glebe.
And I am grateful to all of you who stop by here each week. It feels a bit like a conversation with kind and delayed responses.