“The world delights the generous but seldom overwhelms them.”
– Mark Buchanan
Ever notice that the more guardedly we hoard our time the quicker it seems to take flight? Interruptions give cause for anger, irritation, and the like. The stingier we become with our hours, minutes and seconds, the further behind we get.
It is a basic life truism: Whatever is grasped is eventually rendered ineffective, unsatisfying, or altogether destroyed. While responsibilities loom large, deadlines threaten, and the workload seems to increase exponentially with each tick of the clock. The urgency of the day gives way to ever-rising internal combustion. Likewise, this inmost orientation of the mind also produces a scarcity of generosity in spirit.
Study those rare individuals who are generous with their time. As Mark Buchanan writes in “The Rest of God,” “…Their worlds are more varied, surprising, colorful, fruitful. They’re richer. More abounds with them, and yet they have a greater thirst and deeper capacity to take it all in.”
Conversely, those whose vision of what is “time-worthy” is only as encompassing as the next item on their agenda eventually find themselves trapped in an ever-shrinking, despoiled environment. For these skinflint-ish (often productive, but frequently purposeless) souls there is never enough to go around, of time or anything else for that matter, and they pay for the hoarding dearly. In this self-imposed prison of spirit, life erodes into an endless pattern of musts, have tos, and imperatives that never allows for the luxury of interruptions. Rigidity takes precedence over paying attention and in paying attention to those around us, their needs, wants, and cares, we quantify ourselves as people who see the value of interruption as the vehicle to some of life’s most fulfilling surprises. Buchanan writes: “Think for a moment of all the events and encounters that have shaped you most deeply and lastingly. How many did you see coming? How many did you engineer, manufacture, chase down? And how many were interruptions?”
It is in the recognition that a day seldom passes whereby our schedules are not overridden by someone else’s needs, demands, or desires, that we discover what side of the time-punch we will position ourselves. Our task then (if our goal is to become the most efficacious of time stewards), becomes one of embracing a spirit generous with flexibility, offset with an extra measure of graciousness of heart. It’s one of life’s ironies, “…those who treat time as a gift and not possession – have time in abundance.”
Some ideas for being generous with your time:
- Spend time today squandering it for the sake of others.
- Lend your attention to someone in need of a listening ear.
- Take some moments to be curious about the express interests of another person.
- Anticipate interruptions and determine to greet them as opportunities to expand in knowledge and life experience.
- Focus on the larger scope of life by enlarging former perceptions of what qualifies as time-worthy.
- Give precedence to the people around you, and demonstrate this by refusing to give in to impatient distraction.