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.
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).