“In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all;
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;”
-from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by TS Eliot.
I have often been put the question, by well meaning pastors, small group leaders, and teachers – Which do you spend the most time thinking about? The past, the present, the future?
My answer has always been the future.
I look forward to birthdays, summer, the next course to enroll in, books to be read, the completion of personal projects and trips to be taken. I look forward to the time when breakfast will be done, and its time to drink coffee. When my son and I stop reading books and start playing trucks.
So often, then, I bump up into these no-mans-land moments. Maybe they are what some people call “the present.” That point of transition where the crescendo of laughter at a water fight has died away, and the howling of the diaper change has yet to begin. The uncanny silence when the last few murmurs of smallonetalkingtohimself has faded into naptime, and I can hear the tap of the keys on the computer, looking looking looking through the newsfeed for something that I can’t quite put my finger on.
I take notes on what I want to do between 1pm and 3:30 pm.
And that moment. That little moment right there, when I put the pen down – or sometimes, the moment when I’m just staring at the ceiling, lying on our couch (which needs to be vacuumed of the little cheerios I can feel in my back).
That moment is the most important.
In that moment, the beginning of the most important 15 minutes happens.
I find myself here, at this crossroads a handful of times a day, asking myself the same questions.
Do I dive in to what I have been planning? – To read the next chapter of my textbook – To start on the next task – the one I’ve been planning my day around, the grudging needling feeling that I should finish whatever to do list I started yesterday the day before or last month.
Do I succumb to the tiredness? Tired of following plans! Of being an adult! Of cleaning! Of measuring my life in coffee spoons!
Do I escape – in the depressant of this season of life? – be it novels, or TV, or sleep or (fill in your own latest “bad habit” or “guilty pleasure.”)
Or can I, as I’ve learned and I’m learning – in these pangs of growing up – to simply take fifteen minutes – to breathe – to sort through the bubbling pot of emotions, and move on. To do what needs to be done, or to undo what was already done.
The power of 15 minutes – which path do I take? The path of productivity? The path of escape?
And are there… is there… any other choice?