time for a change

Salkantay Pass, en route to Machu Picchu.

Salkantay Pass, en route to Machu Picchu.

Several years ago, I embarked on a hike in the Peruvian Andes with a small group of experienced trekkers. At the time, it was my first ‘mountain hiking’ - I had absolutely no experience with multi-day trekking and radical elevation changes (and I was living in Florida, sea level). In this naivety, I chose a path that was extremely demanding - a six night trek over the Salkantay pass (15,090ft) to Machu Picchu. 

At breakfast the first morning of our trek, we got the itinerary for the day. It was something like ‘hike until morning tea at 10am, hike until lunch at 1pm, hike until afternoon tea at 3pm, and then hike until dinner at 6pm.’ I catalogued those hours in my head - setting them as benchmarks to reach throughout the day.

Shortly after setting out, I discovered that I was a slow hiker. While the others trotted ahead, I lagged behind. I felt as though I was holding them back, and I wished I could hike faster, but my body wouldn’t let me. I kept checking my watch to see when morning tea would come, then lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I started rationalizing time, “Only 30 more minutes until tea; all you have to do is hike two more hours until dinner and camp.” As you can imagine, it was a very frantic experience. Day two was essentially the same. 

But then something happened. Camp on day two was by a river, and we were told we could have a ‘bath.’ We almost ran to the water, shedding heavy packs, dusty boots, sweaty clothes. The water was freezing, and as I jumped in, the air escaped my lungs. The temperature of the water literally took my breath away. Simultaneously, my water proof watch began beeping in protest, as if it too was in shock by the water’s frigidity. It never worked again from that moment onward. 

Day three’s hiking was actually enjoyable. Not being able to check a watch to know what time it was, or when a certain rest stop would happen, I became immersed in my surroundings and the act of hiking. I stopped caring about how slow I was (no one else seemed to care). My goal for the day became hiking while enjoying the view, nothing else. It was as if time meant nothing. It was incredibly freeing. It gave me a whole new appreciation for being in the present. 

The last night of our trip, I started to become a little nervous about not having my watch anymore - it was my source of time to know when to wake up, and pack up to go to the airport to catch the flight home (this was pre-smart phones). I was staying in a hostel with no wake-up calls, or clocks. At dinner that night, one of the porters was laughing at the fact that he wore two watches. When I told him what happened to my watch on the trek, he immediately took off one of his watches and gave it to me (of course he did). That simple gesture drove home the lesson that I need not worry about time, and that when I need it, time will be there for me.

My watch-gifter, in the red shirt! 

My watch-gifter, in the red shirt! 

Spring Forward

Fast forward to today’s blog post. Today happens to be “spring forward” in Daylight Savings Time lingo. In other words, we set the clocks forward and lose an hour. We gain longer days (the sun will set “later”), but the first couple of days of spring forward can feel kind of like jet lag. It’s hard to fall asleep and even harder to wake up - all because of one hour. 

Today’s loss of an hour comes when I’ve been feeling like I (already) have no time. And now I have one hour less. Yay. 

Let me set the stage. Back when we were in Amsterdam, I saw a test knit open up for a shawl by Prem Knits that I have been wanting to knit since I first saw it on Instagram. Knowing that I wouldn’t be back home (and able to start the knit) until several days into the two-week deadline, I still applied for the test knit. While the verdict was still out on that test knit, I saw another one open up. 

This second test knit was for The Wool Club, a knitwear designer out of Germany. I saw that the yarn that they used for their project was from Echoview - the fiber mill in my backyard! For that reason alone, I immediately signed up to test knit it. (This one is a secret test knit, so I can’t say more about it.)

After enrolling for The Wool Club’s test knit, I heard back from Prem Knits that I was accepted to test the shawl. I was thrilled! I started to look online at yarn to purchase so that it could arrive to my home just in time for my arrival, but nothing was guaranteed (there were Nor’Easters left and right, and shipping was nightmarish). I decided to leave the task of finding yarn until I got home. 

While all this was happening, I noticed that one of my friends from Craft Night, Christina, also opened up a test knit. In a matter of minutes, the test knit was closed because she already had all the testers she needed. I have been really wanting to test knit one of her designs, so I texted her that the next one that rolls around I’d be all over. She offered me the opportunity to hop on this one, so I sprung on it! 

At this point, I should probably mention that I have never test knit anything before. So I went from not ever having test knit anything to being accepted to test knit two items. And wouldn’t you know that by the time I arrived home, I was accepted to test knit the third? 

One test knit is due in less than a week, another in a week, and the third is due in April. You can imagine my knitting frenzy. I am a slow knitter to begin with, and now I’ve got deadlines! I’ve accidentally called them my ‘stress’ knits instead of ‘test’ knits on more than one occasion. 

I won’t even get into the details of all the new stitches and techniques I’ve had to learn to start these knits, my main focus here is on my lack of time to get everything done. And here I am spending my time rambling on and on. 

Balls of yarn all come from Echoview Fiber Mill. Two test knit shawls pictured, in-progress, here. Third test knit is a secret, so not pictured! 

Balls of yarn all come from Echoview Fiber Mill. Two test knit shawls pictured, in-progress, here. Third test knit is a secret, so not pictured! 

Shift in Time

But here’s the thing, today I decided not to be a victim of time. I’m not going to complain about not having enough time, or being so slow. I am not going to check the clock incessantly, and I’m not going to count down the days/minutes/hours I have left to complete my test knits. Remembering my experience in Peru, I am choosing to enjoy the process, irrespective of time. 

Now, it’s not that easy to radically shift my perception of time, just like that. I haven’t gone from complete stress ball to zen monk like the flip of a light switch. It’s a constant process of reminding myself and choosing to be in the present. 

And because there’s no better way (that I know of) to remind myself to be in the present, I began today in meditation. 

Einstein Time

I haven’t ‘had time’ to meditate in a while. There’s always something more pressing to do, or I’ve no motivation to actually ‘sit and be still.’ (Two ends of the spectrum - anxiety over no time, or boredom from too much time.) The real reason, of course, is that I haven’t made time for it. 

Making time - that’s a phrase many use from time to time. Does it make sense? Isn’t there a limited amount of time - 24 hours a day? While it’s true that we live by a 24 hour clock, there are two ways to think about time. One is the Newtonian way - where time is an entity that we are beholden to, and the other is Einstein time - where we are the creators of time. 

I am not going to get too deep into these aspects of time (I learned about them in the book, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks) but what I will say, is that it is much more empowering to live by Einstein time than it is to live by Newtonian time. (Generally speaking, most of the world lives by Newtonian time.) Einstein time thinking involves shifting your perspective to one of creating time. It’s a perspective of knowing that there’s always enough time to do the things you choose to do. It’s also a perspective that involves refraining from thinking of time as a third party - no more complaining about too much or too little time. There’s always enough, it’s just a matter of choosing how to spend your time, and then being present while you are engaged in the activities. 

(It’s actually a little more in-depth than that, and I highly encourage you to check out the details. If, you know, you have time.) 

So why is spending time in meditation actually creating time? Isn’t it detracting from the time I have in a day? My shift in perspective to Einstein time reveals that, if I want to meditate, then I have time to meditate. Meditation helps to relax my body and brain so that I am less anxious, and feel more in control with what I am doing, therefore it is the perfect activity to add in when time feels fleeting. Meditation is a way to connect more deeply to the present moment, or at least take a few conscious breaths, so spending more time in that connected state helps zero in on what's important, increasing feelings of content and often assisting productivity. Meditation is akin to the cold river that zapped my watch, deeming time-worry unnecessary. 

With this old perspective back in the driver seat, I look forward to the rainy day ahead. Today, I'll spend time with Dylan before he departs for a week of work in Atlanta, and I'll enjoy time playing with Takk. I'll also be creating a fair amount of time to savor my test knits, and delight in watching them come to life and fly off my needles. How will you create time today?