Slow time, part 2

In my previous post about the book Slow Time by Waverly Fitzgerald, I said I would do the 12-week process and then report back. Sorry it's taken me so long, but I did do the 12-week process and found it to be really valuable and helpful to me.

At the time I read the book, I had been struggling with where to go next in my personal life and as a writer. I had recently made a lot of changes and had a bit of growth in my non-literary professional life, and I have to admit I kind of struggle sometimes with whether doing these book reviews or my own creative writing really matters to the world at all. In addition, I had lost a valuable but volatile friendship and was in a funk over that, knowing I was part of the problem and self-conscious about how to proceed with new and existing friendships.

So in the midst of change and identity crises galore, during the winter of 2008 I sat down each Sunday morning for twelve weeks, turned off all of the electronic devices I love so much, suspended my usual cynicism about self-improvement, and worked through the activities in Waverly's book. Looking back at my notes now, I see the seeds of the attitudes about time that I have adopted this year, which have made my life a lot more enjoyable and helped me manage stress better.

The book guides you through a process of self-discovery about your ideas and attitudes about time, from your childhood exposure to time to thinking about which times of year important things have happened in your life. I remember being quite free-spirited in my early 20's about time, and now that I am in my mid-30's, married, and have more responsible and satisfying work, I find that I have inadvertently applied the structured time management techniques I use at work to my home life. This has led to a sense of never accomplishing enough at home. If I want to get any writing done, I do need to have some time management at home, but I have learned to be OK with turning off the alarm clock on the weekends and just doing what comes to mind rather than planning each day out hour by hour.

Slow Time also includes a lot of great research about time and attitudes toward time from a variety of authors and cultures. The book is structured so that each chapter looks at time in expanding units. From hours to seasons to lifetimes, along with the personal exercises, Waverly exposes us to a variety of thoughts about time, which kind of helped put my own issues into perspective.

I have come to think that this year, the year I turned 35, is a major turning point in my life. I'm in a good place in my marriage, have a good job and live in a city that I like a lot, and I've been here long enough now to have woven a sort of fabric of daily life, with a variety of friends and familiar routines. At the same time I feel the years shortening, feel like leaving certain activities and attitudes behind, and for the first time am starting to think about how much time I have left on this planet and what I need to do to add depth and growth in my life in regard to the beliefs that have always sustained me but that I have never fully explored. These last few years, I can feel myself moving from a world of possibilities to a land of mindful productivity and service. But mindfulness requires sacrifice in its way, and letting go of youthful passions gave me a great deal of anxiety.

In doing the activities in Slow Time and learning about others' thoughts and attitudes about time, I both broadened my perspective and clarified my own attitudes about how I want to live and what is important to accomplish while relieving some of my anxieties about what I will need to forgo to accomplish these things in the time I have left. It's a wonderful, valuable book and I would recommend it to anyone who is going through change of some kind, or just trying to balance daily life with movement toward lifelong goals while retaining your sanity.

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