Time. Our most treasured commodity. The one thing most people complain about not having enough of. And can we ever have enough time?
One of the things I most greatly appreciate about living an unschooling life is having time. Or rather, taking time, to do things. Because, granted, you do not have time, you need to take it. And when you take time to linger over the little things and savour the moment you will come to feel that you own your own time.
Because granted, time won’t be given to you by anyone around you. Whether it is your family, your friends or the greater establishment. You have to claim it for yourself. You have a right to time.
Ever since we are born we are met with certain expectations from our surroundings. Or, at least, from we are very young. We need to fit into the establishment. The government has a plan for us, the state needs us to grow up and be good workers. Young children are put in daycare, then kindergarten, then school, then there’s college and work and loans to support the education and mortgage and rent and so on and so on. It never stops. Unless we take the time to reconsider. To stop. And think. Think about what it really is that means something to us. If it’s important for you to be successful and rich then by all means go for it. But you won’t have much time. If you can settle for less then you will have more time. It is a perfectly conscious choice that everybody can make. But it is probably not a choice everybody thinks they can make.
I have made the choice to be neither rich nor successful (in this capitalist day and age sense of the word) in exchange for having time. That doesn’t mean that I have enough time. There is never enough time.
I have a friend in whose company I never consider time an issue. Since we are on the same level when it comes to time; we take it. And we don’t let the clock harass us. So, when I’m with her I never look at my watch. And I don’t think about what I have to do next. I just am. This way I get to experience the moment in a way I think is very rare to a lot of people. I get to live and to be myself and enjoy being alive. I am sad to say that I can’t do this with very many people since most of the people I know don’t have time for it. Anyway, I take the time I need when I am with this particular friend to enjoy life together with someone else. I do the same thing when I am with A. She is my greatest teacher when it comes to savouring moments. She does it with such delight that I am surprised not many more parents learn that from their children. The joy and effortlessness with which A lives in the present is so profound that I hope and wish for her to hang on to it for as long as she can and to bring it with her into her adult years. So that she can still, when she is a grown up, enjoy the moments she has and claim the time she needs for each moment without feeling the pressure to hurry up and get on with it!
I am not saying it is easy: It is difficult to take that time to reflect. It can be hard to let go of all the stuff that you need to, or want to, do. And to take the time to identify what is really important to you. You have obligations and expectations. You have responsibilities, especially as a parent you have responsibilities. But if you don’t look at the sunrise or the sunset or the small flower by the side of the road or your child’s beautiful smile. And if you don’t feel the soft breeze against your skin or the sense of salt water against your body as you swim or the sun’s rays on your face and smell the smoke from the bonfire accompanied by the fresh scent of freedom. Then what is it all for? It takes time to experience those things, to inhabit them and feel them. And if you do not take that time can you still honestly say that you experienced them?
I feel very privileged that I had time as a child to feel and inhabit my moments. I grew up in a remote place of the world where time really was granted to us. We could take as much as we wanted (after school of course) and we could spend it however we wanted. If I wanted to go somewhere I walked. We had no cars, no scooters, no buses, no trains, we could only use our bikes in the short summer period. And we had time to walk to places. If I wanted to go into the nature, I did that. If I wanted to sit and watch the dogs howl at the moon through my window, I did that. If I wanted to build a snow cave, I did that. I had time. Of course, all other things being equal, as a child your concept of time is different from what it is as an adult. But as a child I was certain I had all the time in the world. And I did actually. I had that growing up in Greenland and there was no pressure on me to hurry up (except all those terrible mornings where I had to get out of bed and go to school). And children in any other (Western) society did not have that if they did not come from a certain conscious kind of household.
I loved having all that time to reflect. To imagine that I was a bird or a bear. Or to day dream about becoming an actress. Anyway, my point is that I was (almost completely) free to claim the time I needed. And that is what I think should be possible for all children (and adults) all over the world.
As the saying goes ‘time is money’ but what if we didn’t put that big an emphasis on being materialistically well off. I can say for myself that the further away I have gotten from a mainstream way of life the less I have needed material stuff. Yes, i can’t afford new stuff, new clothes, new furniture, new this and that. I have never been able to afford that. But so what. I don’t want those things. I don’t want A growing up contributing value to dead things. That is not what our lives are about. We need to have our basic needs met. Everybody has a right to have their basic needs met and to do whatever they want of course. But after that, time is what we need. What I cherish the most are the moments in my life when I am with the people I love and I don’t think about what I have to do next.
Our time here on earth is so short. And who knows when it will end. Therefore, I think we should take the time to savour the precious moments and enjoy the gift we have been granted that is our life.