When the world is bustling, we feel like there’s never enough time. We float from one engagement to the next, and our feet barely touch the ground. “Where has the time gone?” We ask. “I wish there were more hours in a day!”
On the other hand, when everything is quiet, we don’t always know what to do with the time on our hands. We look for ways to keep busy, stay occupied, be productive, help the time pass.
The coronavirus pandemic will turn out to be, among many other things, a surprising study in the value of time. Never before in modern history have so many people been compelled to stay at home for so many hours every day. Our kitchens have never been cleaner; our storage units never more organised. Coronavirus is a scary situation, no doubt – but people around the world have found inspiring ways to make the most of it.
Meeting life’s challenges
When the pace of modern life picks up again – and it will, sooner or later – we might find ourselves looking back on this ordeal with strange appreciation. Not for the pain and anxiety it brought the world, but for the way it required so many people to slow down and think about our basic needs.
Because let’s face it: For as long coronavirus lasts, and long after it’s over, life’s personal challenges will come and go as they always have done. A newborn baby, for instance, can leave us with little time for cooking or cleaning. An illness or hospital stay can preclude us from devoting time to household maintenance or pet care. A divorce or loss in the family can temporarily change our very experience of time, so that even the most basic tasks seem difficult to accomplish. There will always be situations when it feels like there isn’t enough time or energy available to us.
A gift that truly matters
It stands to reason that now and in the future, the gift of time could become more relevant to people. There are so many examples. When a friend or loved one offers a hand with cooking or laundry, they’re giving us more time and space to get well. If someone gives us the gift of massage or music therapy when we’re struggling, it prompts us to slow down and take better care of our inner selves. Babysitting and nanny services can give us an opportunity for a much-needed date night. Driving services can help us to navigate a stressful schedule.
In each of these situations, the gift of time is precious. And because it has a tangible impact on our lives, it brings us closer together as families, friends, and communities.
The clock is ticking…
There’s no doubt that we’re living in a historic moment, and that life – although it will return to a semblance of normal – will never quite be the same. Hopefully, people will come out of isolation with a renewed appreciation for the bonds of friendship and community. Hopefully we’ll be more attentive to wellness, with a stronger appreciation for time in all its respects: Time together, time alone, time to heal, time to get well, time to celebrate, time to reflect, time to work, and time to collaborate.
If we do see time a little differently after all this, maybe our ideas around giving will also change. How can we show up for the people we care about in ways that matter? What can we give, and what would we like to receive, when the going gets tough?
Each of us has required the gift of time in the past, and will require it again in the future. If we give each other this essential gift in more creative ways, we can help build a better world.