Watching the Clock
I'm trying to overcome this destructive habit.
My husband and I were rushing to a wedding on Long Island the other night. My eyes were glued to Google Maps. How much longer? The numbers kept rising, then dropping, then rising, then a 17-minute slow-down but you are still on the fastest route…Our timing was so close (or the traffic so bad!) that we received a text that the father of the bride wanted to know our ETA since my husband was saying a blessing under the chuppah!
But other than feeling badly about our delayed arrival, I also started thinking about how much time I spend (waste?) watching the clock.
I was recently on a plane; how often did I check the flight map to see how much longer? When I go on the treadmill, I don’t think I ever get into that runner’s zone I’ve read about – I’m always conscious of the time, very aware that the first ten minutes are the hardest and the rest are just…hard!
I confess that even on some of these long summer Shabbats, I start to look at my watch. I’ve prayed, eaten, learned, napped, spent family time – and there’s still three hours until Shabbos is over?
While I watch the clock, I am simultaneously conscious of the destructiveness of this habit. I am so aware that I don’t want to wish away even a moment of time. I know that while I may have other things to do – when the plane lands, when I get off the treadmill (do I ever?), when Shabbos ends…But do any of them really take precedence over the moment I am in? Even if they are important. Even if they are time-sensitive.
I was anxious about the time of our flight landing because I was on my way to my granddaughter’s 8th grade graduation (Who am I kidding? I’m always anxious about the time of my flight landing!). But no amount of anxiety can affect the plane’s ETA, the rapidity (or lack thereof) with which our bags appear on the carousel, the traffic on the Garden State Parkway. It is a waste of energy, another distraction, yet another way of not being present.
It's not east to fix.
Sometimes looking at the time is a motivator – I’m more than halfway through my run! There’s only an hour left in the flight. And sometimes it’s the opposite – I’ve only been on the treadmill for 15 minutes and I feel like I’m slogging through quicksand. It seems I’ve been in the air forever and there are still four hours left. It’s hard to get it right. It’s hard to just enjoy where I am and make the most of that moment.
But I’m working on it. I’m well aware that my clock-watching accomplishes nothing. The plane doesn’t land any quicker, Shabbos doesn’t end any earlier (okay I don’t really want it do just sometimes on those really hot days…), the traffic on the Belt Parkway doesn’t ease up any quicker and my workout doesn’t get any shorter! So better to just relax and enjoy. Better to appreciate that we’re able to fly across the country or the world, that I still have the strength to exercise, that we have a car to drive and friends to celebrate with (and extra time in the car with my husband), and of course that I am able to experience the power and beauty of Shabbos.
I need to reframe, to turn it around, to focus on the gifts and making the most of each minute. It's a process, but I think with determination I can retrain myself. I can certainly begin. I wonder how much time it will take?