The luxury of time.
When you work at a college, you become used to the idea of seemingly endless committee meetings. I once joked that there should be a “Committee on Committees” only to be told that there had once actually been one of those. As we moved into a remote work environment, I assumed that the frequency of meetings would diminish.
Like so many of us, I have now been inundated with seemilingly endless virtual meetings – Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Ring Central, WebEx, and more that I am sure I will discover in time. I have more meetings now than ever before. On one hand, that’s creating some stress but on the other hand it’s lovely to be able to connect with so many people. Actually, at least half of these virtual meetings are not ‘business’ but are more social.
Today I participated in a virtual happy hour with a group of friends. After most of the group had left, I stayed on with a good friend and the two of us had a personal ‘catch up’ session for another 45 minutes. During that time, she mentioned the concept of the “luxury of time” and we spent a good deal of time discussing that concept.
First of all, we both agreed that we are not “working from home.” People who already have a history of working from a home office are working from home. The rest of us, those who work in more traditional workplaces, are now “at home working.” It’s not the same thing. This new model for most of us has created the need to take time to acclimate to our temporary “new normal.”
For these first three weeks, we have all been adjusting and finding a way to make things work well. Now we are all settling in and – more or less – understand the flow of time and activity in our home offices. This is what brought up the concept of the luxury of time.
On a practical level, I have 90 minutes every day when I am not commuting to work. That alone would give me more time to focus on other things, but that’s not the luxury I am talking about. Without the many small distractions that come from sitting in an office where other people have relatively quick and easy access to me, I find that I have a tremendous amount of time when I can focus on things other than work.
Since I live alone, my down time does not involve the need to talk to anyone else. I don’t have pets, so I don’t have the distraction of taking care of another living being. All I have is myself and my thoughts. This has created what amounts to an ongoing internal therapy session in my brain. For me, the luxury of time is the luxury to ponder some of the deeper more existential issues in my life.
Ok, of course I am using some of the extra time every day to deal with more mundane things – cleaning and sorting – as well as creative projects like writing. But more and more I find myself just sitting quietly with my thoughts.
This truly does feel like a luxury to me – this time to allow my mind to wander around without feeling any time pressure to be somewhere or accomplish something on a tight deadline. I will freely admit something here. I am finally enjoying this time being at home working. There is a freedom in this that I never feel when I am sitting in my office with people around and frequent distraction.
I think I am going to miss this when we finally go back to the office in person. One thing I know for a fact – I will never again be able to go back to the way things were before this experience. The world is changing but more importantly for me is the fact that my world is changing. I am already far different than I was three weeks ago. My perspective on what is important in my life has shifted considerably. The way I talk to myself in the silence of my mind is shifting in a blessedly positive fashion. My reaction/response to people and things that I deem to be “stupid” or “useless” or “ridiculous” has become far less stressful.
I feel freer and lighter than before. For me, this sparkling isolation has become a time of introspection and profound healing. Yes, I will have bad days. I am human and that’s part of the process of being alive. But I think the good days are going to far outweigh the bad ones as I move ahead.
Who will I be when this is done? I don’t know. All I can say is that I will be an entirely different person than the one who packed up his office and started working at home three weeks ago. I intend to use this luxury of time to make sure my life keeps moving forward in ways that empower me and make me feel good. If that means finding a new career, so be it. If that means staying where I am, I am fine with that as well. The unknown has never scared me. Actually, it’s rather exciting!
It’s only Quarantine if it comes from the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.