I remember chatting to my cousin who used to run a removal company in Haverfordwest about the laid back atmosphere of West Wales.
He told me,
‘We do have our own word for ‘Manyana’ in Pembrokeshire… but it doesn’t carry the same sense of urgency’.
Time moves slower in Pembrokeshire
The lockdown has certainly given me plenty of ‘time’ to think. I seem to have a lot of ‘time on my hands’. I’m beginning think West Wales was right.
In case you’ve forgotten already, last week the clocks went forward an hour. It must have been the most uneventful change in the clocks in my lifetime. In previous years there’s been a sense of loss. An hour less in bed… Oh, I’m tired and my body clock is all wrong. This year, nothing.
How did we get so hung up on time and time keeping? As these weeks are unfolding I’m starting to wonder if these days of lockdown might help me reconsider my time priorities.
They say Benjamin Franklin came up with the line, ‘Time is money’. He also said, ‘Lost time is never found again’. Sayings like these have been so engrained in me that I have lived life under a constant time pressure. Working against the clock. ‘Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today’?
Now that I can’t rush here and there, meet people, get business partners on the phone, plan this, buy that, I really am starting to wonder if I’ve done this life thing all wrong all along.
It’s amazing how our perception of time changes with our circumstances. Time flies when you’re having fun, but a watched pot never boils. Nights of peaceful sleep pass in the blink of an eye but the hours of tossing and turning with worry make each second seem like an hour.
It doesn’t look as if this new way of life is going to change anytime soon so I’m trying to recalibrate my personal clock. I’ve been looking at quotes about time and time management and I’m trying my best to work out which ones I intend to attempt over the coming weeks.
Stephen R Covey is a best selling author. His book the 7 habits of Highly Effective People is a guide to being ‘successful’. I expect it works, well it has for him, he’s sold millions of copies. But after all we are going through, is it really the way you want to spend the rest of your life? Work hard strive for success, make more money, bigger house, bigger car.?
But there was one quote from Mr Covey that stuck out to me,
How are we going to invest our time from now on? I know the quotes are coming thick and fast today, but I’m assured on their deathbed no one ever says, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’.
I think My Covey was suggesting we invest our time in the things that make us successful but I’m going to try to rethink his words. What are the really important things in our lives? Family, friends, people we love? Have we invested enough in them?
I know that even with social distancing lots of people have been talking to family and friends more often and for longer than they would have done before the Coronavirus crisis using the internet. My kids have organised meetings on ‘Zoom’ and ‘Houseparty’ so that we could have quiz. And we laughed together. In the days before the crisis I’d have put the TV on and fallen asleep on the sofa whilst planning and worrying what I had to do the next day… but now I wasted time with my kids, and it was beautiful.
In the book ‘The Little Prince’ Antoine de Saint Exupery says ‘It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important’.
I could never understand my dad’s obsession with his roses. Mowing the lawn and cutting the hedges had to be done to keep the garden tidy but on top of that my dad would spend hours and hours cutting and pruning his roses. He would make special trips to Gower to buy horse manure. It seemed every available space in our garden was cluttered with old Joe’s ice cream pots that he had filled with compost to grow yet another set of cuttings.
Then, he would give them away. Was that a waste of time? He didn’t make any money; it didn’t bring any material benefits. But he loved it. It gave him time to think, to compose his sermons. It brought him pleasure and I know he loved seeing people’s reactions to his garden when they visited and saw his wild collection of every kind of rose and then again when he presented them with some roses or cuttings to take away.
Maybe when this is all over and life gets back to a ‘new normal’ these lockdown weeks will seem like a dream. For some it will have been a nightmare bringing heartache and sadness. For others it might be straight back to an old way of life where we watch the clock and mark the days until our next holiday or retirement.
Many of us will literally have our work cut out trying to make good on all of the loses this enforced lock down has meant to us economically but I really hope the goodwill of helping each other out and applauding public service is something we hang onto for some time at the very least.
Can we as a society rebalance our attitudes to what and who is important? Those people who have kept going, caring for us and our elderly relatives, who have stocked our shops and served us, who have taken away our rubbish, who have delivered our shopping. In recent times they might have been described as unskilled jobs. Well I now know how important these people are and.. it’s about time we all did.