Finding the Time

Jul 16, 2010
The second time I went to therapy, in the beginning of my second year of library school, I expressed the frustration that I wasn't able to do everything that I wanted to -- it wasn't that I didn't have the time, just that I couldn't make myself do it. I would spend my free time reading or playing video games instead of doing these other things that were more important to me, like writing or practicing my religion. And the therapist said, well, you need to set some priorities; you can't do everything, so decide what is most important to you. And she probably offered some other suggestions, too, but I'm afraid I can no longer remember what they are. I can remember whether or not they helped (hint: no).

Not being able to get anything accomplished other than sleep and video games is a symptom of depression, of course. (I'm not sure if the video games are part of the official diagnosis or not, but they should be.) It was earlier this week, when I decided that my major accomplishment for the day would be a shower, that I realized how depressed I'd gotten again. Unemployment will do that to you, but I was in denial. I always start out my vacations -- and I'd been thinking of this summer as a vacation, at least until August -- intending to do all kinds of wonderful things that I didn't have time for while I was in school or working, and it never quite happens. Do I just get depressed when I don't have something that needs to get done, some external motivation? Possibly.

When I sat down to start writing a new blog post, my first inclination was to say that I hadn't been able to find the time to update. Which is both true and not true. I have had more time than I know what to do with; I have, at most, two (completely voluntary) obligations a week, for a total of four hours. But I really haven't been able to find the time -- or perhaps it's the mental space I haven't been able to find, because all too often the thought of writing something, anything, for public consumption has been overwhelming.

I lost the habit of daily prayers and readings when I went to a professional conference in DC at the end of last month, and I haven't been able to pick it up again. Last night I wiped a thick layer of dust off my altar. I haven't been able to find the time. Time is not an objective measure, an arc of numbers on a clock, but an experience. When we're enjoying ourselves, we say that time flies; at ten minutes to five on a Friday afternoon, it crawls. In a hot July in the midst of one job-hunting disappointment after another, it seems to vanish altogether until everything runs together in a long string of sticky afternoons and inadequate resumes.

I know -- I know, in a deep part of myself -- that I could make time come back if I worked at it, if I spoke to my gods again and traveled to their secret places and paid attention to my own mind. The thought is, actually, a little frightening. The sense of time passing may only enforce how long it's been that I've been unemployed, how much longer it might be, how much trouble I could be in if I can't get a job soon. Or it may help cement my sense of self, give me an anchor even if I can't make the rest of the world acknowledge my skills and talents.

I got up before noon for the first time in a week today, ate breakfast and lunch and took the bus downtown to work in the library, where I wrote so many blog posts during the school year while avoiding my homework. I haven't dusted off the altar yet. We'll see. We'll see.


Heather said...

I know what you mean here. I struggle myself with "finding the time" to write meaningful blog posts and practice my religion. It seems easier, somehow, to just do mindless things on the computer or lose myself in a book or occupy myself with all sorts of small unimportant tasks until, almost before I know it, there isn't enough time to work on the important things. And the longer those things get put off, the harder it is to break the cycle and start doing them again.

My own daily routine of prayer and meditation has fallen apart lately, and the dust is growing on my altar as well. I want to get back and yet I know that in a week or a month or however long I'll probably be having the same problems with finding time. It begins to feel like something I am forcing myself to do because I think I ought to do it, rather than something I am doing because I want to.

Jenavira said...

Thanks, Heather. It's hard, terribly hard -- and harder all the time because of the feeling that it shouldn't be.

Vespid said...

Yes. I recognize so much of what you're saying here, and have struggled with it too. Especially the bit about not being able to get anything done except sleep and video games, and the unhelpful advice. I know I have the time, or I should anyway, but somehow I don't. Every time bedtime rolls around, I look at what I haven't done that day, and I have a crushing sense of inadequacy, which only makes things worse. I know that, but I still have a hard time breaking the cycle.

Thank you so much for sharing. It really helped to read this--just knowing I'm not alone is big.

Best to you.

Jenavira said...

You're so welcome, Vespid. (I admit to a slightly selfish motivation for writing some of these, too -- it helps me to know that I'm not the only one, either.)