Making the Time to Notice Your Life

The hamster in the wheel. The racing rats. The gardener furiously chopping the tops of weeds and leaving the roots to flourish. This is me right now. This could be you. This is just about everyone at some point or another. Being in Nigeria – in all honesty here – with not much to do, gave me that much more time to to be inspired and to express that inspiration. It allowed me to look within, lean into my situation, analyze, discover, reflect, and interpret. It sparked creativity and moved me to write. And write. And write. I typed over 200 single-spaced pages in my journal. I wrote my blogs. I wrote lengthy emails. I started a book. I had TIME. I had SPACE.

And then I came home.

Bye bye, TIME. Farewell, SPACE. Adieu, Creativity, Inspiration, Writing.

I’m one blessed girl to return to this economically repressed country and snag a full-time job that I love in two weeks time. No complaints here. But since I’ve started work, my capacity to look within and search for meaning has been bleaker than black and hollower than a hole. And it’s because I have “no time.”

Do you ever have “no time?” No time to work out, no time to relax, no time to “live your life,” no time to express yourself creatively? Many of us have phases in our lives (for some it’s days and for others it’s decades) where we run and race and rush our way to that final moment when we say, “What the heck did I just do with my life?”

And it’s not to say that answering such a question would yield a depressing answer. Many of us love the things that keep us uber-busy. Many of us thrive on our fast-paced working and our go-go-going and our crossing things off the to-doing. But when we’re too busy to notice our movements in life, it is then that we feel like we missed out on it all.

Ever sat through a movie but didn’t really watch it? Ever gone to a concert but caught yourself daydreaming the whole way through without hearing a note? Ever eaten a meal and not realized it? I bet you have. And I bet you’d wished you had paid more attention. Because if you did, you may have enjoyed the movie (or turned it off because it was crap). Or you may have felt seriously moved by the music at the concert (or gone home and gotten a good night’s sleep because it was crap). Or you may have melted into the scrumptiousness of your meal (or saved your body the effort of digestion because it was crap and you weren’t hungry anyway).

But the more important questions are: Have you ever lived your life on autopilot, not noticing what you were doing and why? Have you ever stopped to reflect on, well, anything? The incredible trait which sets humans apart from nearly all of the flora and fauna out there is our capacity for self-awareness. So we might as well use it, eh? But often I forget or I push it aside. (“Yes, yes. I’ll think about that/deal with that/process that later.”)

My somewhat liberal schedule in Nigeria gave me time to be self-aware. I felt alive there, despite the ups and downs (or rather, because of them). The mere consciousness of these moods and motions and the time I made for reflecting on said consciousness gave me that deep sense of living. For me, being as busy as I am now in the States, I feel starved of that self-awareness. I’m living my life, working my job, hanging with friends, reading my books, enjoying myself, but not reflecting on any of it.

I miss my pondering and situation-dissecting. I miss my spiritual outlet and expression which comes in the form of philosophizing and writing. I’ve put it all on the waitlist for the next available backburner. I’m wondering if you also have a creative passion or self-reflecting outlet that’s been put on hold because you just don’t have the time or energy for it. I’m also wondering if we should let this keep happening. I’m thinking no.

When it’s all said and done, I want to know how the heck I’ve lived this life. I don’t want it to be a blur. I want to remember the good, the bad, the ugly, and the lovely. And this is why I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to write this post. Priorities.

Much love to you all, and thanks for being the better half of my creative outlet, the socket to my plug!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ellen
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 14:59:20

    Dearest Julie,
    As always, your words have an incredibly timely message for me. Just this morning on the way to work, I heard Jim Croce’s voice crooning “movin’ me down the highway…” Busy happens to me too, and sometimes I just need a reminder to look at the scenery.
    Here’s the link: try it on for some inspiration to look forward.

    And may you always know just how many hearts you touch.
    To life!


    • Julie
      Oct 28, 2011 @ 05:03:54

      Thank you soooo much for these words, Ellen, and I’m glad they came at a good time for you! My dad and I are watching the Cardinals play as we speak. I’m hoping to visit our mutual friend when she returns home. You and I will have to meet up! To Life!! (love that!) Julie


  2. Anonymous
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 17:46:06

    Julie, these are the type analytic conversations that take place at my cancer support group. Since we are all in different states of dying, different family and work histories the thoughts/stories are just incredible. A large question is did we live a full life. It is a very difficult question for young mothers with young children at home. It is such an honor to see their process. I’m often sad because the world would be a different place for anyone who “sat in” on one of the meetings.

    I love your style of writing and I’m still waiting for your book to be published.

    Love you bunches,

    Aunt Carolyn


    • Julie
      Oct 28, 2011 @ 05:00:58

      That group sounds so amazing and powerful, Aunt Carolyn. I can’t imagine what goes on within those walls. The book is chugging along…haven’t written in a few weeks but I’ve got about 60 pages so far. I’ll let you know! Love, Julie


  3. Julie Surface Johnson
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 18:51:15

    So true, Julie. No place on earth is going to fulfill. That’s what keeps the hungry soul longing for heaven where everything will be as it should. In the meantime, seek balance. How? Possibly create a mission statement for yourself, boiling down in a sentence how you would want to be remembered at the end of your life. Then engage in those things that will move you there, and eliminate those that are only fluff (or crap). Love you, Julie


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