There was a time, not all that long ago, when it didn’t feel like everything was a rush. I could never claim to be a bastion of ‘slow living’, far from it. I was always busy and efficient and productive, but I also had the spaces in between to pause.
I could loiter with a cup of tea when I was early, or linger for a chat after an event. I had time for yoga and breakfast and two cups of tea before work and would still be the first to reach my desk. I could work late, not because I had to, but because I wanted to clear my to do list and write out another for the next day and then go to the gym before dinner. I would carry my book around with me everywhere because there were always moments of waiting in the day when I could read a chapter or two.
Without even realising it, my whole life had contingency time built in.
I don’t think I really ever fully appreciated this until now.
Lately it feels like every transition is a rush, every journey a race against the clock. The success of my morning hangs on what time my daughter wakes up. Too early and it’s chaos, too late and it’s chaos. Even with our bags packed and waiting in the buggy, outfits set out, breakfast ready and waiting the night before (I even fill the kettle and put the tea bags in the mugs to save myself precious morning minutes) and packed lunches at the ready, losing even half an hour at 6:30am can shake up the whole routine. Add to that the not infrequent delays and overcrowding on the Victoria line (ironically I am writing this while on a delayed and overcrowded Victoria line train!) and an early start can still mean a late arrival in the office. At the end of the day somehow the time between 4:30pm and 6:00pm accelerates and I find myself speeding out of the office and crossing my fingers for a decent commute. After Florence’s bedtime the routine kicks in to cook dinner, lay out clothes, pack bags, put on washing and make breakfasts and packed lunches ready for the whole cycle to start again.
This week, for the first time since staring back at work, I had a day where it felt like the accelerator was lifted slightly and it reminded me of what I was missing. I arrived early for a conference, loitered with a cup of tea before my presentation, had a productive day in the office, worked late and went to a post-work networking event. It wasn’t a crazy, wild, fun day in the traditional sense, but it felt strangely good and luxurious.
I think what this day showed me is what I’m missing are those moments of pause in the day. If I can just find some extra moments, some times in between again, though extra efficiencies and time saving hacks, maybe, just maybe I can feel a bit more like myself again.