I was reading a true story about a Norwegian soldier who had been put out of action by frostbite and was confined to a small sled in the middle of the Arctic wilderness. Some friends were hiding him from the German soldiers who were occupying Norway. He was alone for twenty-seven days except for a short visit by someone about every three or four days. He had a book with him, but he didn’t read much of it during those twenty-seven days. He “never seemed to have the time.”
When I read that last line, it jolted me awake and has been bugging me ever since. Do you understand why? Here was a man who couldn’t walk, who was confined to a sleeping bag in the middle of a silent, snow-covered, completely uninhabited area in the Arctic, and he was too busy to read. What’s wrong with this picture?
What’s wrong is the same thing that’s wrong with you and me. We’re too busy. You are, aren’t you? Yeah, so am I. Short of time. More things to do than you have time to do. Always trying to catch up.
But what has been dawning on me with a certain degree of irony and ridiculousness is that my lack of time is completely created by me.
There is no shortage of time. There is only the greedy effort to get more from our days than we can, while at the same time greedily wanting to also spend some of that time in leisure.
It’s silly. And it’s tragic. It costs us the experience of living. Time seems to fly by. Wow, where did those last ten years go? Were we so busy getting things done we forgot to enjoy our own lives?
Let’s just relax, shall we? Let’s quit trying to do so much. We don’t have to get all that stuff done. We don’t have to be perfect parents — kids have been raised by imperfect parents for a long time and still turned out okay. We don’t have to be perfect at anything. We don’t have to do it all. And we don’t have to be happier. But when we realize we don’t have to cram so much into our days, we will be.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.