On time

Yes, I do have time — and sometimes, that’s scary to admit.

My JORD Wood Watch in the woods.

My JORD Wood Watch in the woods.

Stephanie texted me about four minutes after I got home from the gym. “What are you up to this aft? I’m heading to the Cascades.”

Damm. I had articles to write, forms to fill out, errands to run. I had already exercised (you know, in the sterile, indoor, slightly grotty environment of the gym). Everything practical in me said that I needed to politely decline, defer to obligation and responsibility, stay indoors and get to work. Everything practical in me said, You don’t have time.

But. The Cascades. Outdoors. Moving through the slow spring woods to the falls, swollen and rapid with melted snow. Conversation with a friend.

I texted back: “Twist my arm…” By the time she picked me up half an hour later, I had drafted one of the articles on my to-do list, and figured I’d shoehorn the other stuff into the evening or the next day. It would all work out. It did work out. It always does, when I admit it.

Because, you know what? I do have time. Not for every single thing, in every moment, but for more than I’m often willing to admit. I have time to squeeze in a soul-sustaining walk in the woods with a friend. I have time, when I remember, to stop and listen fully to my kids and respond to their (sometimes incessant, often overlapping, easy-to dismiss) queries. I have time to meditate (still a very bumpy work in progress).

The scariest thing to admit, though, is that I have time to write. My own words. Every day.

I’ve journalled almost daily for more than two decades, so, clearly, I have learned how to make time for that kind of writing — the messy, boring, brain dumps. I have boxes of Hilroy notebooks filled with pages and pages of my musings and glorified to-do lists, with instructions to BURN WHEN I DIE.

But: creative writing. Blog posts, essays, the short story collection I’ve been funded to write. I have time to write all of these things, too. For the past month or so, with varying degrees of regularity, I’ve been making the time to write most days, sometimes for as little as five or ten minutes, sometimes for an hour or two once the mojo gets going. The hardest thing is sitting down to do it. The writing always comes, and the result has been, well, product: I’ve finished several essay drafts, written a half dozen or so new pieces, and sold several of them to boot. I’m tracking words and minutes (they add up — who knew?), checking in with a small group of like-minded friends on Facebook, applying the old ass-in-chair approach.

It works.

And this is scary, because it means that, really, I’m in charge of whether I get anything written. Whether or not I feel like admitting it, there are always ten or fifteen minutes in a day to move forward on a piece, jot down a few ideas, write a couple of lines of dialogue. It’s scary because it means I have no excuses. It means that it’s not too hard. Which means it should be easy, right? That’s the plan, to make creative writing as reflexive as journalling, as eating breakfast, as brushing my teeth, putting on my watch in the morning. I have the time, and I’m waiting for the time when that feels more like comfort and luxury than it does potential shame. And the balance on that is tipping — more often than not, I look forward to those minutes.

But writing, like all aspects of living a full life, also requires that you get your ass out of your chair at appropriate moments and say yes when a friend invites you for a walk to one of the most beautiful places you know, a place where there’s no cell-phone reception, where you pass by fiddleheads and trees that will end up very soon in a beaver dam.

I’ve been musing about time since the JORD Wood Watch company very kindly sent me their Fieldcrest model in black. I’ve been wearing it ever since — at my desk, on errands around town (it gets lots of compliments), and, of course, in the woods at the Cascades, where it feels most at home. It’s quite lovely — chunky but light, the wood smooth and burnished to the touch, the styling simple and elegant. It keeps me looking at my wrist more often than I do at my phone to check the time, which is a good thing.

And it keeps time well, just like I’m learning, always learning, to do. 

This post is sponsored by JORD Wood Watches. All opinions are my own.