One problem for the writer today is the frenetic daily pace that many of us maintain. Work, which means emails, phone messages, projects, proposals, letters etc., is a big source of this fast paced lifestyle, and in a world of computers and cell phones even home is no haven. But our jobs are only one source of strain. Children if we have them, bills, grocery shopping, maintaining automobiles, households, and adult relationships are other sources. Some of these can be pleasant but they all require time. And Lord forbid we try to maintain friendships and attend social events. Or that we get involved in blogging!
I don’t know about you, but if I allow it then every moment of every day soon becomes filled with chores and commitments. And there is no time to write. But worse, there is no time to think, and thinking is an absolute necessity if we are going to write well. For me, thinking is also a necessity for maintaining my own mental health. When I have no time to contemplate I get frustrated, irritated, and short tempered.
I’ve struggled with this problem for years, juggling the demands of my job, my commitments to other people, and my writing. Too often I’ve let the writing slide, giving up my own self fulfillment to meet the needs of others. I’m sure most of you are the same.
But lately I’ve been thinking about “sacred time.” This is time set aside to feed one’s own needs, and not the needs of others. This is time that has to be kept inviolate, or as near as possible to that goal, because without it we can’t do that which makes us more than a collection of impulses and behaviors.
Right now I have two ways of trying to achieve sacred time. One is my daily commute, an hour and fifteen minutes each way. In the morning I am usually planning lectures and going over my to do list on the way to work, but in the afternoon I allow myself to day dream. And I have a tape recorder in the car in case something really interesting comes to mind. The second sacred time is when I go on walks alone around my neighborhood. Walks have always been the best way for me to escape into my own thoughts, but I can’t always manage them.
How about you? Do you have sacred time? If so, how do you achieve it? How do you learn to put yourself first sometimes without feeling guilty or selfish? How do you break away from the frenzy and find the calm?