I do not profess to dislike the Internet. This invention – if you can even call it that, being that its advance has changed our entire world in such a short time and is actually more of a movement, an evolution, no, a revolution – is a gift. We can tap on the keyboard and send flowers to a new mother. We can click a mouse and receive groceries delivered in a white truck, a bearded man tumbling out with two bins and a week’s worth of fresh produce. We can log in to our browser and pay seven bills in thirty seconds or less.
On paper, it seems, we have saved as much time as is possible.
Last week, in my own home in the Midwest, we received five inches of snow. As I bundled up Bee for a full day of errands – hat on, left glove, then right, no, the other right – it occurred to me she had outgrown last year’s snow boots, and we had high hopes of building a snowman later. As I weighed my options, it was obvious to me that the best decision – the one promising adventure and experience – was to visit the local thrift store for a replacement pair. But this required a bit of time and energy, and we were admittedly low on both, and it was easier, of course, to hop online.
Two days later, new boots arrived in a cardboard box.
What had I done with the time I’d saved?
My grandmother’s generation often shares of the atmosphere that dishwashers, laundry machines and modern appliances created in their homes as young women. Suddenly, with the flip of a switch, chores could be completed in minutes with little to no effort. Gone were the days of washbasins, of neighborly gossip amongst wooden clothespins and sun-dried sheets, children playing underfoot. Instead, the modern housewife was relegated to manage her machines – indoors, alone.
And although these advances offered much manual labor relief for housewives in that time period, slowly, many of them began filling their time elsewhere. Children played indoors to the hum of a dishwasher while their mothers sought out new ways to modernize their day, to quicken the pace. Years later, TV dinners arrived on the scene, to be followed by a slew of consumer-driven products marketed for housewives deserving a break – machine after machine calling for an outlet and a plug, a metaphorical tether to the indoors.
What had they done with the time they’d saved?
Our rat race is nothing new. We have become experts at filling each and every pocket of time, a faulty measure of productivity. And now, here we are, grandmothering our own generation’s hamster wheel.
If I have learned anything from the rat race – both our grandmothers’ and our own – it is that I no longer believe time can be saved if it is not later more wisely spent; if it is not kept, and held, and treasured. If it is not carried, weighty in our hands, worn as a backpack for exploration or inspiration, adventure or action, service or surrender.
Order the snow boots, I say to myself, if the time saved adventuring is wisely spent adventuring.
Grab takeout tonight, I say to myself, if the time saved serving is wisely spent serving.
Skip yoga, or the morning walk, or the dinnertime run, if the time saved in activity – gratitude for our pulsing blood, pumping hearts – is wisely spent in activity.
I believe we are built to navigate the delicate balance of precisely what we have been given. I believe we have been created to walk the path we are on. I believe we are offered time – is it always enough? or is it just enough? – for today.
I believe time cannot be squandered, earmarked. I believe time is here, and it is offered, and it is a gift not meant to be replaced with activities that promise to save more of it.
And so, today, the computer was shut. The fire was built. The snow has fallen, and the boots are thawed, and we have explored. We have adventured.
Today, we did not automate.
Time was not saved; it was kept. It was received. (It will be carried.)
It was spilled out, poured on, used.
It was spent.
Food for thought. Really healthy looking food that will probably go down kinda rough and then revolutionize my eating habits. :D
Ha, I hear ya, Laura! :)
beautiful and really hits home. Thank you Erin!
Thanks, Jenny. :)
Thinking about this more and more every day. And as my children grow I see how time goes by faster and faster and I don’t want to stop the time, however…I do need to find the way to stop this constant feeling I am missing out on something really huge if I don’t look at my phone for 2minutes, because as I said, my children are growing and that time is not something I can get back.
I totally hear you, Petra. :) Thank you for sharing this!
“time was not saved. it was kept.” yes and yes. love this post so much! xo . t
Thank you, Trina!!!!!!!
I think this is the most lovely thing of yours I’ve ever read. Just wonderful.
Thank you, Marika!!!
Thank you sweet friend!
I feel the same way every time I get out and do something. Something, that when I come back, I say, that was worth my precious time. Time well spent, like you said.
Yes! You know it when you’ve spent it. ;)
You penned the words I have been trying to formulate all week. Simply beautiful!
Thank you, Sarah. :)
Yes! Lately, I’ve found that no matter how much time I “save” or “manage” wisely I still feel guilty or weird for relaxing and doing nothing. It seems that the better we’ve gotten at saving time and automating the harder it’s become to enjoy slow moments. We’re programed to feel the need to fit more in to an hour so when an hour only holds one activity it feels weird.
My efforts lately have been put into enjoying the one activity that I’m choosing to give my time to.
“We’re programed to feel the need to fit more in to an hour so when an hour only holds one activity it feels weird.” <---- SO TRUE!!! Great point, sister. :)
I’ve now read this three times. So, so, so good—and needed! Thanks for sharing your beautiful words, friend!
Love you, friend!
I am a recent follower who has been struggling with my journals of late. I love the way you get your message across. Your writing is thought provoking and inspiring. So nice to meet you…
Oh thank you, Kris – so nice to meet you as well!
We always think we have more time than we have, and none of us knows how much of it we have left! I love seeing the pictures of you and Bee making the most of those precious moments in the snow…she will have good memories this summer!
Thanks, Ma!!! :)
lovely! your thoughts and words deeply resonate into my heart and mind. thank you. a great reminder to be intentional about our moments, our days, our choices.
Thank you, Layla!
Well-written thank you for the thought provoking essay! I was thinking today about what a struggle it often is to find time for myself and here I am living in my own body…
Ha, the great conundrum. :)
Maybe one of the best things I’ve read on this topic, ever. I spend a lot of time thinking about this very thing.
Oh thank you so much. :)
I have kept coming back to this post all week. Totally beautiful, wise and wonderful. Thank you xo
Thank you, Emily!
Thank you for this. xo
My pleasure, friend. :)
I followed a link from Gathered Cheer and what an enlightening piece of writing I stumbled upon. I’m going to now put the phones/laptops/tv on hold for our family today and go spend some time together just being! Thank you x
Ah, I’m so happy to hear that! Enjoy, Cally! :)
I feel that way about time as well. There are days where even though I should do this, that, and the other I allow myself the mental break, peel myself away from my laptop and do something like read a book or journal instead. I like how thoughtful this post was. We should all have more adventures!
Thank you Sophie. :)
Your words ring so lovely and true. This is a reminder I want to take with me everywhere I go, each and everyday. Thank you for this, Erin!
Thank you, Johanna!
Amazing blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Bless you!
WordPress has everything you’ll need! Highly recommend that or Squarespace. :)
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