I’ve been in the fortunate position recently (dependent on point of view!) of having a foot operation and therefore having to take a couple of months out of working.
I say I have been fortunate as I didn’t realise just how much time out and time off was needed until my body had to rest and my mind decided it wasn’t going to carry on functioning as normal!
We are terrible, aren’t we, at actually giving ourselves the appropriate time and opportunity to properly switch off and unwind? More often than not, we only fully take time out when we are forced to and it is generally a health issue that does that force-able manoeuvring!
And yet, time out is what we need on all levels at some point – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – to ensure that we can function, and carrying on functioning, in the best possible way as we move through our lives. If we think of our cars, none of them have MOTs with the engine running at full steam. When they are taken apart, tweaked, cleaned, repaired and so forth, the engine is always off. How often do we fully switch off? Not often enough.
If we look back over the past few years we can see quite clearly that life has gotten busier generally; its’ pace more frenetic and it demands so much more. Technology means that we are far more available to everyone, everywhere and all of the time. The things we can do with our time have expanded and extended – supermarkets opening late for instance means that we can do the grocery run at 9pm if we so choose, or indeed that may be the only time some people can fit it in! I don’t see the general pace of life changing very much either as we move forward, certainly not slowing down! Being busier and life moving faster is something we all have to get used to.
It doesn’t mean that we should move at breakneck speed all the time – we simply can’t and thrive as we should. As life gets busier, we actually need to slow down.
Taking time out, allowing ourselves proper time to rewind, recharge and refresh is essential. On life’s treadmill it is easy to lose touch with what is important, forget the reason that we are aiming for certain goals or to get so caught up in the destination that we lose all track of time and with that, of the small moments that bring so much joy and make life worth living.
Time is the one thing we cannot get back; our time is the one thing in life that we can give ourselves and it is also the one thing that we can give to those we love.
Giving ourselves time allows us to reconnect with our soul, to realise and acknowledge what is important and what is not; it helps us to understand our life’s calling – what will truly fulfil us, what it is important to achieve and what is only a transitory moment of pleasure or accomplishment. It gives us the gift of discernment. Contrary to some popular beliefs we cannot have everything, be everything and do everything. We have to make choices about what is important and let what is not pass us by…
Giving our time to those we love shows them, far more than words ever can, just how much they mean to us. Giving our time is a life-sustaining process, both for ourselves and for others.
But taking time out is hard. Really. It demands a lot of organisation, a significant amount of compromise; it also demands courage – for in really taking time out we are left with only one constant companion, ourselves – often the person we least want to face alone.
We are confronted by our minds, our thoughts, our beliefs. We feel the things that don’t sit well with us (and that we are able to ignore to a relative degree during the busy-ness of life) and we also recognise our own fallibility. We deceive ourselves into believing that what suits the time and place in life that we are in is automatically our only option or we convince ourselves that the journey and significant events of our life are in the hands of others and out of our control.
Taking time to run our own MOT encourages us to re-engage with life with an enthusiasm that enables us to make changes; we begin to respond to our own eagerness for life and the wonderment that enthralled us as a child begins to be reborn. Magic is created and miracles are achieved.
Is taking time off truly difficult? Yes it is, for we are programmed from an early age to ‘do, do, do’ rather than to ‘be’, and for many of us significant time off also has a financial impact. As with all things however, we don’t have to climb the mountain in one go. Even taking one day out can begin that process of refreshing us and enabling us to reconnect to the pure joy (and simplicity) of life – no technology, no appointments and no watch (we are even programmed when to eat rather than listening to the needs of our individual bodies!)
We owe it to ourselves to look after ourselves – mind, body and soul – and we owe it to those we love to show that we care about their care, concern and love for us; that we honour our body and our sense of well-being as much as we want them to honour theirs.
Very often, when we feel something is ‘missing’ in life, it is us that is missing…us missing that connection to ourselves…from that, all else becomes possible and all else becomes clear.