A smiling woman seated on the arms of a chair with her feet on the cushion

I’m not sure how I feel about time. I have no concept of it. Yet, I move like I’m running out of it.

I feel guilty for taking time to be still because it feels like wasted time. At the same time, l indulge in the little things that bring me joy because it’s time well spent. If I had to put a status on my relationship with time, then I’d click the option on Facebook that says, “It’s complicated.”

I feel guilty for taking time to be still because it feels like wasted time.

I could blame it on my mommy issues. It’s something like daddy issues, but not. I lost my mom at a fundamental age in life, leaving me with things left unsaid and questions unanswered. I also had anxiety triggered by my impatience and need to know and control every little thing.

My therapist once suggested that I schedule “me moments” in my day. Moments to sit with myself, my thoughts, my questions and to perhaps journal. She had to know that suggestion would be met with fierce repudiation. The overthinking, ticking time bomb that I call my brain may explode if I took the time to decipher its components. Not exactly what I’d call time well spent.

Needless to say, I lost that battle and listened to her explanation. She said these moments could be as simple as a hot bath, quiet time at the park, a quick journal entry or a glass of wine before bed. The purpose was rather simple—to add more pauses of gratitude throughout my day and to release my time-induced anxiety. Maybe she was onto something.

The purpose was rather simple—to add more pauses of gratitude throughout my day and to release my time-induced anxiety.

After a day chasing time, I decided that I needed a quiet moment alone in my car with a two-piece spicy leg and red beans and rice combo from Popeyes. Probably not what my therapist had in mind, but it sparked joy. When asked what I wanted to drink, I smiled and asked for a Coca Cola, my mom’s favorite.

I parked my car and let my brain wander to a story my dad once told me about her. In July 2009, she was back in the hospital after her blood sugar dropped during a week spent in Dallas with her sisters. Mom had a multitude of health problems at that point in her life—pancreatic cancer, diabetes, congestive heart failure and kidney failure. It was a wonder that she was still a walking ball of joy.

Dad got to the hospital as soon as he could, and my aunts updated him on mom’s status. They’d been in this position so many times before, literally just months prior they were in the hospital. He’d thought this time would be just like the others.

“She said I can drink Coke!”

I instantly imagined the pure delight in Mom’s voice when she said that. She found joy in what I thought to be the simplest things in life— sunshine, time spent with her sisters, finishing a good romance novel and drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola. The latter she gave up once her health began to decline.

She found joy in what I thought to be the simplest things in life.

“Yes, you can have as many Cokes as you’d like.”

Dad was a bit confused, as no other doctor has said this to her, but he was happy that she’d be able to indulge. As they gathered her things for discharge, Mom told the doctor that she looked forward to seeing her at her follow-up appointment in a year.

The doctor smiled at her and said, “I’d love to see you.”

Mom passed away two months later.

I thought about the smile in Dad’s voice when he realized that the doctor knew it was only a matter of time. Mom deserved to spend that time doing as much of the little things that brought her happiness, and she did. I always thought the purpose of that story was to share how Dad knew his time with Mom was coming to an end, but, really, the message here is so much more.

No amount of worry or foreknowledge will allow us to control the things we simply cannot, like time. We can, though, control what we do with it. I suggest we take more moments and enjoy our Cokes.

What are simple things in life that bring you joy? How can you make time to do more of them?

Image via Easton Schirra, Darling Issue No. 11

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