Relinquishing Time for Freedom

Relinquishing Time for Freedom

A couple of weekends ago, I met up with my former itinerant teacher (she taught me to hear and speak after my cochlear implant surgery), and she had no shortage of childhood stories about me.

When I was a child, I apparently had no sense of time, and used to amble around. I liked to do things at a slow and relaxed pace. When I was out and about, I always made it a point to explore my surroundings, and would take my time looking, observing, and making comments.

When I heard that, the first thing that came to mind was, ‘what happened? I’m not like that AT ALL now.’ And then I thought, ‘wow, I wish I was more like that.’

I’m very much aware of time. My days are structured according to the time, and how much time I’ve allotted to each portion of my day. If there’s an event coming up, I have a mental countdown in my head to how much time I have before the event starts, when I should start getting ready, and how early I need to leave before I make it to that event on time. I’m always aware of what time it is, down to the hour, and what needs to be done in the time I’ve mentally allotted for myself.

It’s pretty rigid. I’m acknowledging that it’s TOO rigid. I get a sense of anxiousness whenever I think that I’ll be late to an event, and then I project that anxiousness onto someone - like my partner (who is hardly ever on time).

As someone who is very much aware of time and the structure it holds, it boggles my mind that I used to be a person that ambled without a sense of time. I couldn’t even tell you HOW to do that anymore. I forgot. I wondered how people functioned before the concept of measuring time was even a thing - I ended up going down a hole of philosophical articles about the concept of time - very interesting stuff, but let’s not focus on that.

Time being measured leads to structure which can lead to more efficient ways of working, if you’re using the time wisely - think work smarter, not harder. However, people often think of time as a looming clock ticking away days and moments that you can no longer take back. Sounds ominous, but it’s the truth. Measuring time can be a healthy way to provide structure but it can also be detrimental to our mental wellbeing depending on how much control you give it.

I thought back to the little version of me that used to amble around, and I reflect on how I went from not thinking about time to constantly having it at the forefront of my mind. It was a gradual process - and my hearing loss played a huge part in that.

Ever since I got my cochlear implant at seven years old, I had no choice but to be aware of the time, because I always had to know how much time I had left before my ability to hear via this electronic device disappeared.

The first version of the cochlear implant I had was battery operated. The batteries would last for three days, and then it would die, and I would have to replace it with a new set. I became aware of how many days passed since I last changed its batteries, and how many days I had left before the next time it died.

For me, time was viewed as the amount I had left before I stopped hearing. That continues up until now, with the current version of the cochlear implant. This version has rechargeable batteries that can last 15-24 hours depending on use. I’m always conscious of how much time I have left before I need to recharge my batteries again so that it can last me until the next stretch.

Then, there’s the warranty on my cochlear implant - every three years, the warranty expires, and I would need to get a new one. In the back of my mind, I’m always aware of how many years have gone, and how many years are left before I need to buy a new cochlear implant.

This constant measuring of time, and how it centered around my hearing loss seeped into other areas of my life - from how I would feel anxious if I’m late, or how I would constantly think about how much time I have left until the next thing (whether it be the next work meeting, the next social event, etc.). It affected how I would need to structure my time to make sure I get certain things done before that self imposed “deadline” I put on myself. Sometimes, I even tell myself I’m going to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at set times of the day, and if I’m not hungry…I’ll still eat anyways.

Even writing this out makes my heart race a little bit. I actually had to stop and say, ‘Karina, chill out. It’s FINE. Relax.”

All of these little ways of measuring time have definitely taken a toll on me - especially over the past several years. I’ve noticed several things:

  • It lowered my resilience to spontaneity.
  • I feel irritable when I don’t complete what I wanted to complete during my mental allotment of time. 
  • There are days where I would feel almost caged in or suffocated by the time limits I’ve put on myself. 
  • There is a sense of desperation to feel free rather than controlled - whether it was by other people’s schedules/events, set times to eat, my own limitations/pressures I put on myself, and so on. 
  • I added structure to everything at the sacrifice of my intuition (i.e. eating at set times, rather than eating when I’m actually hungry). 
  • I’m constantly focusing on what is next rather than enjoying what is happening right now.

It’s a bit wild to have this written down, but all that’s to say is…I want to embody little Karina’s ‘ambling’ energy, and really just enjoy where I am now, and not constantly think about what’s next.

I’m not planning to relinquish the concept of measuring time entirely (that’s too extreme), but I want to soften those rigid structures that I built around time instead, and just have a bit more trust that I will complete whatever that needs to be completed, while also enjoying myself in the process. I want to live a bit more in alignment with what I intuitively feel so that time can be freeing rather than restrictive.

How am I doing that? I’m not sure yet. I have some ideas, which include some mindset and habit shifts like:

  • Listening to my body, and eating when I’m hungry.
  • Respecting other people’s time, but not scheduling my own time around the time of other’s - make space for my time too. 
  • Taking time to enjoy or observe something a little longer, do it - taking that opportunity to look at the flowers a little more closely, amble through a shop a little longer, or read several more chapters of that novel. 
  • Coming up with ways to remind myself to stay in the present moment whenever I catch myself thinking about what’s next. 
  • Trusting that things will unfold as they do - but for that trust to happen, stay in the present. 
  • Keeping a fully charged backup battery with me at all times for my cochlear implant  - just so I don’t have to be consciously aware of the countdown to when the current battery will die on me. I’ll have a spare!

Those are some of my ways to embrace that ‘ambling’ nature that I used to have. If you also feel too structured by time, what are some of the ways that you can relinquish or soften that structure so you can embody more freedom in your day to day?

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.