I have a reoccurring fantasy. It’s not X-rated. It doesn’t even involve chocolate. My fantasy involves time.
I like to image there’s a place called The Time Store. In my fantasy, the Time Store is located in a strip mall near my house, right between CVS and the dry cleaner. A bell tinkles when I push open the door. I enter and squint into the dim light. Dust settles in my nose and I sneeze as I walk up to the counter in early January and place my order.
“I’d like three extra hours, every day, for the rest of the year, please.”
Father Time sits behind the counter. He runs his finger down a column of numbers on a sheet of yellowed paper taped to a mirror behind the cash register. “One hundred dollars, please. Time is precious, you know.”
I give him my money. He gives me more time. Suddenly, my days have extra hours. Hours to spend on the things I need to do, or better yet, on the things I want to do.
What would you do, if there really was a Time Store? Would you write a novel? Train for a marathon? Organize a decade worth of family pictures? Spend more time with the people you love? Or just sit a chair and do that one thing you never have time to do.
Doing nothing or doing something you love is more important than we realize. Play is essential to child development. Doctors say it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well- being of children. Kids need unstructured time to process the world around them.
And it’s important for adults too. Research has found that hobbies and vacations decrease stress in significant ways. Lower levels of stress make us happier. That makes us healthier, which allows us to live longer. And living longer is the ultimate definition of having more time.
This year my resolution is not to do more. It’s to do less. I resolve to make more time for the things I love.
I love reading to my kids. I don’t love driving around in my mini-van as I rush them off to yet another enriching afterschool activity. We’re going to regretfully say no to coding club and chess club and all the other fabulous things we could be doing with our time. These are great activities, but we can’t do less if we’re still doing more.
I love reading to myself, as well as reading to my kids. I have a stack of books by my bed that I’ve been dying to crack open, yet they remain unread. But I don’t love social media or the way it makes me feel. A wise person once said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I want to spend less time on Facebook, looking at the curated lives of others, and wondering why mine isn’t nearly as cool, and more time inside the pages of a book.
I love to write. I don’t love running errands or going to the grocery store when I could be creating another world on my laptop. So, I’m going to be smarter about taking advantage of all the time hacks we have available to us, like grocery delivery.
And I’m going to become ruthless about saying “no” to all the things that don’t serve my family, my writing or my peace of mind. This is so hard. My fragile self-esteem needs to be needed, because if I’m needed, I must be important. And who doesn’t want to be important?
But saying yes, just because you can’t say no, makes you resentful, tired and worst of all, it makes you insanely busy. And I resolve not to be busy this year. I resolve just to be.