The Merovingian “Who has time? But then if we do not ever take time, how can we ever have time?”

The Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded

I’m not sure when it really set in, but one morning I awoke and found myself in my thirties. Granted, I was still in my early thirties, but it still stung. When I looked back upon my life up to this point, there were several areas in which I thought I was lacking.

I don’t know how things got this far. I don’t remember most of my life-voyage. At some point in my life, time accelerated. Or at least my perception of time accelerated.

I do remember childhood quite vividly. It was a long, distressing, difficult process and I wouldn’t go through it again for anything. People who claim to want to go back to High School and relive their glory days are loony as hell. Realistically, I didn’t have it hard back then. I got through it all with little trauma. What was difficult for me, was the limitations. The rules. You’re always being told no. You’re always being told what to do. I got through High School by biting my tongue and realizing that at some point I would be free.

Enter High School graduation and turning 18. Freedom. Freedom to move out on my own and into my own apartment. Freedom to starve. My first 3 years of freedom were incredibly difficult. I was in utter poverty and rarely had the things that I needed to survive. Still, freedom gives a certain power to a man, and when pride is added into the mixture it is amazing what one will endure in order to consider himself free.

In my early twenties things got a little better. By my mid-twenties I was starting to carve out a niche for myself. I wasn’t starving anymore. Life was getting better. It’s about here that things started to blur.

Up to the age of 25, I could account for every minute of my life. Time moved very slowly for me. Scientists admit that as people age, they experience the passage of time in a more swift manner. However scientists can offer no evidence as to why this occurs. One theory is that when we are very young we have a poorly developed sense of time. As a result, time is experienced at a snail’s pace. As we age, we become more rooted in the passage of time. This leads us to experience time in quicker succession.

Now enter the 21st century. The vast majority of today’s technological advancements are geared toward saving time. Computers, cell phones, automatic teller machines, global position satellite systems in our cars, self check out lanes in our grocery stores, and the TIVO are all about saving us time. New inventions are meant to do old jobs in a quicker and more efficient manner.

With all of today’s technological advancements, why does it seem as if people have less and less time? Most of my life I have lived in major American cities. Last year I made the decision to move to rural America. I was caught up in a fast-paced life, and I thought that if I moved to the country, I would have more time. More time to enjoy life. More time for myself. I was wrong.

I have lived in rural America for 8 months now and I don’t feel as if I have any more time than I did before. In fact, I feel as if I have less. My days are long and it is rare that at the end of the day I sit down and think, “Today I had a good day.”

This is of course, all relative. What one person experiences and another one does (even in the exact same circumstance) are never equal. This was another concept that took a long time to set in. But the important concept here was how could I create more time for myself? How could I adjust my life so that I felt more fulfilled? How could I experience more joy during the passage of time? These questions led me to develop a five point system geared towards better time management and a more fulfilling life experience.

1. Make a schedule
Very few people can keep effective schedules in their head. It pays off to write up a schedule of events. I prefer to make a weekly list. Items are always added and subtracted, it’s inevitable, but the important part is to stick to the schedule as closely as possible.

2. Schedule time alone
People always forget to schedule time for themselves. They make a list of all the things they need to do and when the day is done, they are exhausted. How much time a person needs for themselves will vary greatly. Personally I need several hours.

3. Schedule time for your hobbies
Don’t let your schedule be overly-burdened with work. Put things in you enjoy. For me it’s (depending upon the season) snowmobiling, skiing, fishing, cycling, and motorcycling.

4. Schedule time for loved ones
You may think this doesn’t need to be said, but often it does. When we are busy it is our loved ones that suffer the most. They are the ones we cut off first in order to “get things done.” Family and friends ground us, and remind us of what is most important about life.

5. Once in a while, throw the schedule out
As important as scheduling is, sometimes you just need to wake up, toss the schedule, and go do something spontaneous. These little diversions break the monotony and enhance life. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’re in a rut.

These tips might not sound revolutionary, that’s because they’re not. There is nothing utterly philosophical or epiphany causing here. But if you are feeling the time squeeze, ask yourself, “How many of the above points am I following?”

We’re human. We forget. We need to be reminded.

A big part of me would like to slow the experience of the passage of time. As I grow older, without a doubt, time is moving at an ever-quickening dizzying pace. I have witnessed my parents and grandparents age. Some of them have passed. Younger nephews, nieces, and cousins grow bigger and older every time I see them. I look into the mirror and I don’t see the face I remember. I have decided not to let this sadden me, but nostalgia can be a powerful adversary. It’s easy to get swept up in days gone by. Very soon there will be fewer days ahead of me than there are behind me.

We can make time for ourselves. We can make time for the things that are most important in our lives. No one will do it for us, the burden rests with us.

Albert Einstein “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.”

Albert Einstein

Originally published in Acrimony Magazine Issue #12 August 2004