"Things have been so busy"

"Things have been so busy." Just have no time. How many times have you said this to someone who wanted a little bit of your time? What we want to say is, “Just have no time for you.” But some basic sense of decency reminds us that it is rude to tell someone that you do not have time for that person. Without a doubt, we all have time, but we are forced to make choices in how we spend it. And thus we calculate, we measure, and we say, “just do not have the time, so sorry,” “really busy, may be next time.” Everyone prioritizes their time, after all it is a limited resource. And very quickly we realize where we fall in the priority. The repeated response of, “don’t have the time,” eventually hits home the fact that one is really low in priority. And then one stops. Unless one just wants the punishment, one stops. Once pauses and realizes that they will not receive the gift of time. Because it is indeed a gift. As a colleague of mine points out so often; when we give our time to someone or to some work it can never be compensated by money. The quaint idea of time is money is a good tool to camouflage the guilt that comes from using someone’s time. Yes I will pay you back in money and we are even. Actually, we are not. Relationships are not based on the transactional nature of money. Relationships rely on the way we offer the gift of time. Because the giver gets nothing out of it. It is truly a gift of a commodity that the giver will never recover. It is completely unlike money. One can squander money, or invest it poorly, but there remains a hope that the money can be recovered or regained. But the moments of time that were given can never be recovered. The investment in time has only one return – relationship. I tell my students to be careful that they know where they put their time – their emotions – building a relationship takes time and when the relationship is called into question every moment that was invested is now lost. Forever. And all the other things that could have been done with the time, what some called “opportunity cost,” are now lost as well. These wounds hurt more when one realizes that priorities have changed, as they very well can, and the “I really am busy” becomes the line that replaces the ”Yes, lets meet.” In prioritizing time we prioritize people. By offering time to a person we say, “you matter,” by denying them the time we say, “you do not matter,” to me. It is even more poignant in the age of constant communication when everyone is WA emoji away. We all have the tools to give the gift of time, we just need the will to do it. The feelings and the desire to say, “Yes I have time.” For you. There is no greater gift anyone can give another human being. And withholding that gift is one of the greatest hurts one can bring on another. We make this choice all the time. On this day when one sees the hazy shade of winter hang on the city one remembers Simon and Garfunkel saying, “Seasons change with the scenery/Weavin' time in a tapestry/Won't you stop and remember me?”

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