I used to hate when people complained about not having time to do something. It seemed like an excuse: no one has trouble making time to dick around on Facebook, but suddenly there’s no time to read or go to the grocery store?
But as I get older and collect responsibilities that I can’t shift around as easily, I’ve become more empathetic. Lately, with a puppy and more professional obligations, finding the time on weekday mornings to write—without the pressure to do more than stare at my computer and be in the space of whatever it is I’m working on—has been challenging.
To compensate, I’ve resigned myself to missing out on early morning weekend adventures. I can only seem to write before lunch, and it’s become a weird truth that I’d rather write one perfect paragraph before noon than do just about anything else. When I miss out on these outings, it’s not because I don’t have time, it’s because I’d rather be writing.
Even if I won’t be going on a day hike tomorrow, I realize this is one of the least obligated times of my life. Which is why I had some compassion for a woman I came across on my run yesterday. The track near my apartment was empty except for two women, probably in their 40s, and a bored nine year-old girl looking on. The track is the most pleasant way for me to exercise with my dog, Rex. She can race around and sniff, and I can run without worrying about her racing around and sniffing.
I did my first lap between the women’s 400s, but once they started again, Rex began running alongside them. One of the women, I like to think the mom, said in the loud, under the breath way of a passive aggressive without any power, “A dog shouldn’t be on the track.” Fair enough, and I left because in her tone, she was saying, “This is my moment not to worry about emails, or my husband, or the laundry, and even then, I had to bring my child, and you and your dog are ruining this.”
I felt bad, not for her disrupted 400, which to be nasty, wasn’t that fast, but for how little time she felt she had. Maybe I just felt bad for my future self, who one day will have a fuller life that I will try to escape in regular 90-minute increments to write. I hope that in those flights, I can be more at peace than that woman, but I’ll probably be just as anxious to do something with my bursts of freedom.
After the track incident, I took Rex to the park, and thought about the opening of “Pretty Hurts.” Like Beyonce, or her songwriter Sia Furler, my aspiration in life is to be happy. But more specifically, it’s not to worry about time or money.