It’s About Time

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we’ve rushed through life trying to save – Will Rogers

Time is the enemy of our synapse challenged world.  This beast is always just a step behind us; we keep losing ground as it nips at our heels and bears its sharp fangs.  We tap on the brakes to try and slow down, but even the vacations and weekends aren’t always terribly relaxing.  We attempt to break apart our days into manageable segments or, as the poet T.S. Eliot once wrote, “Measure out our lives with coffee spoons.” 

We often experience time as a force outside of ourselves; as if the clicking clock on the wall or Timex on our wrist had its own personhood that nags at us: “Do this not that, wait, what about that other that?” There is the visceral sensation that everything – everything – must be done NOW. We spin like a top trying to take it all in. We labor to manage our time while our nervous systems overload, toasted to a crisp in the microwave of our modern times.

No doubt most folk dream of chucking it all; of hopping on a Jumbo 747 to Italy to sip Chianti in a verdant field near a Tuscan village – hence the popularity of the best-selling book and movie, “Eat, Pray, Love.”  But most of us will never go aerial; we soldier on and muddle our way through our lives as best we can.  This becomes all the more a sticky wicket when life’s engine seizes up in the throes of a murky anxiety and/or depression.  Trying to stop this pain moves to the top of our priority list; we hammer away at it, but sometimes it just won’t relent.

We feel that we must figure out our sorrow and mind-bending stress before time runs out and we find ourselves in a real pickle: “If only I didn’t feel stressed and depressed, I could get all this shit done!”

In his book, You Can Feel Better Again, Richard Carlson, Ph.D., writes:

When you feel down, depressed, or blue, there is a strong tendency to try to figure out why you are feeling the way you do and to try to do something about it.  The worse you feel, the stronger the urge.  Many times, particularly with regard to a ‘depressed’ person, this need to escape from the way you are feeling is ‘urgent’. One of the tricks to overcoming depression, or even extended low moods, is to learn to relax when you feel down – having faith that the low period will pass if you are able to leave it alone and do nothing.  The important point to remember is: The factor that keeps you feeling down is your reaction to the ‘urgency’ you feel.’

I love this psychological approach: I had never thought of my reaction to my depression as “urgent”, but so often it is.  Depression’s five alarm pain can burn down even our best laid plans. We think that the way to stop this unruly visitor is to squash it, when we might be better served by waiting it out. 

Today, walking up a leafy sidewalk thinking about past fall memories, I said to myself, “I accept where I am right now.”  And I really meant it.  It calmed me. I accepted all that lay in front of me today.  This gave me a sense of peace and rootedness.  I somehow felt a kinship with the blowing trees who so timelessly anchor themselves in the rich brown soil.

Take time for yourself today.  Take time to appreciate your daily bread – moment by moment – because it’s the only loaf of time you’ve got. There is much to be appreciated beyond depression’s grasp or the clatter of our anxiety. Depression, stress and anxiety do not last forever; there are gaps – some shorter or longer – between these turbulent emotional states.  Learn to see that this is so.

Sometimes, I catch myself.  I sense that I have let hours whizz by without having paid attention to neither my life nor a scintilla of the dear people and events that surround me.  I had lived too much in my head.  We all need to step out of the limitations of our own thoughts and through the portal of all the rich possibilities and blessings that lay both within and without in the time we’ve been given.

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3 Responses to It’s About Time

  1. Yeoman says:

    Wow.

    This short entry is so densely packed with deep thought that I started reading it something like four or five times before I completed it. I felt I was missing part of the content.

    Simply brilliant.

    I’m preparing for a trial right now. It’ll happen shortly, and I’m miserable. The part of your entry discussing urgency describes me exactly. Perhaps due to the influence of your blog in general, and your recent post on the flood, I’ve been trying to be less mindful of the sense of urgency and being aware that it will pass. It’s been very difficult, I’ll admit, but I’m only starting to get as blue about the upcoming stress as I normally become some days prior to where I’m at now.

    I heard another speaker, on a totally different topic, talk about our natural “flight or fight” instincts. We really do have them. I think this is part of it. I’ve “fought” so many times I don’t relish the fight anymore, and so “flight” seems the best option. But I can’t. Back up against the wall, no choice but to fight, it’s depressing. But it will pass, as you note. Hopefully this is my last fight, but then I always hope for that. Best not to focus on it now.

  2. Tom Beaver says:

    Sunday, Oct. 17th, surfing the web, Googled “de-stigmitizing depression,” and after 3 pages found LWD. I felt relieved to find this site, relieved that I’m not the only lawyer to want to talk openly about my life of depression. Relevant, perhaps, to this post, during the course of my current counseling program I realized a while back that all I can do is “Accept with gratitude all that each day is willing to give me.” Some days it’s more. Some days it’s less. And of course, as we all have discovered, some days it’s so little that even breathing seems to be a precious gift. Over time, fortunately, with very skillful therapy and a combination of very high dosages of medication under the watchful eye of a psychiatrist, I’ve begun to toy with trying to persuade the day to give me a little more than perhaps is its intention, sometimes with some hint of success.

  3. Rich says:

    It is comforting to know there are others out there caught in this vicious cycle caused by the deadlines of the civil justice system. My heart goes out to all stressed out lawyers who read this. Remember it is simply the system not you and it will pass.

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