The Dharma of Time

Every day I want to do a number of things. I want to nurture my relationships with my family — and with God (and that means at least part of the Daily Office and contemplative prayer); I want to put in an honest day’s work at the store; I want to post to this blog; I want to work on whatever writing project I have going on at the time; I want to do at least some reading (my monastic gadfly doesn’t say I shouldn’t read at all, just not as much as I tend to), and of course, there are the little but important things like exercise, cleaning up around the house, and playing my bass.

Now, by my calculations I can do all of this, each and every day, but I do need to do a few things differently. I need to spend less time messing around online (my biggest time-waster, particularly when it comes to browsing books and articles related to my areas of interest, and occasionally succumbing to current but inconsequential news), and I need to be diligent and disciplined about getting to bed every night by 10 PM and up the following morning by 5 AM. Just two simple tasks: limit my internet “fun” time, and get to bed on time.

Time… I remember reading somewhere once that the monastic life is, essentially, all about time. So is, therefore, the life of a monastic lay associate. But when I look at my life, I see two primary nexus points of chaos: first, I tend to be a clutterbug (as anyone who has seen my house, especially my garage, or my desk at work can attest), and — more germane to the issue I’m working with now — I tend to clutter my time.

Sigh.

Living in the present — that’s what classic works like Abandonment to Divine Providence are all about. But here’s a mystical paradox: to most fully and mindfully live in the present, I need to manage my time, which means being mindful of the coming demands of the future — even if I’m just talking about the next few hours or days. Knowing and planning for my future, and then mindfully living in the present, seems to be an all-important key.

Especially when that means turning off the computer, and getting to bed on time.

So I can do all the other things I choose to do (but never seem to find the time for).

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  • Robert Thorp

    Hi Carl,

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long time now, but this is the first time that I’ve posted. These are my own struggles as well. However for what its worth, my experience is that the more I truly live in the present, the more productive I can get at the things that truly matter to me. Mindfulness is the best way of avoiding being “Distracted from distraction by distraction” as TS Eliott once described it.

    With best wishes

    Rob

  • Shadwynn

    Remember, Carl:
    Just say “No.” (Follow-through after you say “No” could be helpful, too!) :-)

  • http://www.stilljewish.blogspot.com Jeffrey Swartz

    I love your blog. Maybe I will ge this book for Father’s Day. Telling the wife now.

  • http://wwwspiritusabbey.com Fr Chuck Cooper

    Carl,

    I am resolving not to call friends in other time zones close to their bedtimes!

    Chuck+

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

      Well, Chuck, flexibility is a virtue, too. :-)


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