Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time without time

I'm writing this from the balcony porch of the vacation condo we rented at Destin, Florida, for our family vacation (and a little research). Almost a week at the beach– sun, sand and sea breeze. What could be better to recharge the muse after a long gray winter?
Except we hadn't driven more than fifteen or twenty miles from our house in Louisiana when I realized I'd never put my watch back on after my shower the morning we left home. At first I was a little panicked. (Just a little– it wasn't a huge disaster, but you do become dependent on certain devices.) I knew my husband had his watch, knew the condo would have clocks, knew if I really need it I could buy a cheap little plastic watch at Walmart. But you know what? I didn't miss my watch much at all. As we left the hustle and bustle of our tightly schedule and jam-packed lives behind, we eased into a week where time didn't matter. We slept until we wanted to get up, lingered over breakfast and watching the waves from the balcony of our condo until we were ready to head to the beach, played until we were hungry, napped when we were drowsy.
We were not slaves to the clock for a change and it felt great! (Okay we did have to report to the snorkeling company by a certain check-in time in order not to miss the boat, but...)
It was a reminder to me how we often impose unneeded stress on ourselves by watching the clock, or calendar too closely. A certain amount of structure is necessary. Concerts have to start at a specific time, planes have to leave at a specified time, book manuscripts need to be turned in to the publisher by a certain date to allow ample time for production. I get that.
And I'm sure it won't take long for me to fall back into my clock watching, rush-rush habits when we get home, but for a few days, I'm enjoying not having a watch. We all need a little breathing room away from the constraints of schedules every now and then.
If time weren't a constraint on you today, if you had no particular schedule, what would you do differently?


  1. I'm with Terry--I'd write. I never get to spend a whole day writing, so that would be a real treat for me. I also take my watch off every time we go on vacation and don't put it back on until we get home. That might be a new tradition for you to follow, Beth!

  2. I would write whatever I wanted, then read whatever I wanted. Out in the garden. All day.

  3. Wow! You ladies are dedicated! I try to write every morning. It is my job (I don't have a full time job outside the home) so as much as I enjoy writing as a career, if I had free time with no constraints...I'd read, nap, watch a movie, relax, meet a friend for lunch...Stuff I don't feel like I have time for in my regular schedule.
    Every vacation without a watch, huh, Marie? Well, maybe. :-)

  4. I'm so jealous Beth. You are lucky to not have a job on top of writing. To me, having a full uninterrupted HOUR to write is a major treat.

    yes, go watch-less on vacation! It's the best!

  5. I'm a clock watcher from way back. In nursing, just about everything is done at specific times. Sometimes the nights in the ICU are very long, and getting from three to six AM takes an eternity. But I often find that when I'm writing, time passes more quickly, and this week of my vacation has gone by very fast! I guess time really DOES fly when you're having fun!

  6. I would come over and see you! I'm only an hour away. Call me next time you head this way and we'll make plans to get together.


  7. Amelia-
    If you mean you are an hour from Destin, then mark your calendar for next March! I'll be speaking at the Silken Sands writers conference in Pensacola Beach the third weekend in March 2010. Come see me there! there'll be a booksigning free to the public...
    Beth C
    PS- Yes, Marie, I know I'm blessed to have my mornings for writing. Thank you, God!

  8. If the day could last forever, and I wouldn't get hungry, and the family wouldn't get hungry, and we weren't running out of milk...

    I'd write and walk and write and walk and write.

    But I'd probably rather it wasn't raining for those walks...

  9. I'd write and sleep and believe it or not, I'd find the time to eat three meals.

    Who is green with envy!

  10. If I had no time contraints, yesterday I would have had time to comment on your blog, Beth!

    I think I would just take the time to really enjoy everything, from eating breakfast, to gazing out the window--I'd make every moment count no matter how small or trivial.

  11. Our vacation to the Grand Canyon was like that...our schedule was watch the sunrise and watch the sunset, and do whatever we wanted in between ;)

    I'd read, write and sleep if I was there now ;)