There are a thousand ways to spend your
day--here's how to set aside that to-do list and catch up with your life.
can help you move beyond the tyranny of the cliché level more effectively than
anything else: carefree timelessness. What is carefree timelessness? It is time
together. Not five or ten minutes, but two hours or four hours, or a weekend
away. And it isn’t just a lot of time together. Carefree timelessness is time
together without an agenda.
All relationships thrive under the condition of carefree timelessness, but we
don't gift our relationships with carefree timelessness. We try to shove them
into five minutes here and ten minutes there, a cell phone call here and an
instant message there. Do we actually expect that our relationships can
genuinely thrive under these conditions? Do we sincerely feel that this is
enough to form a significant connection with another human being? Or have we
simply failed to think about it, because we are distracted by the everyday
insanity of our busy lives?
If you want
your teenage child to open up to you a little more, spend an afternoon together
without an agenda. Do something different together. Make this a regular part of
your relationship. The first time, your teenager will be understandably
suspicious, but once this becomes a normal part of your lives together he or she
will sense your genuine interest and will begin to open up.
same approach can be taken with any relationship. Simply add some carefree
timelessness and watch it begin to grow and thrive.
Think back to when your primary relationship began. You probably spent a lot of
time together, and when you weren't together you probably spent a lot of time
thinking about the next time you would be together. Was there spontaneity and
carefree timelessness in your relationship at the beginning? How much energy did
you put into trying to please each other?
You may think that you spend more time together today, but do you really, or are
you simply in the same place together more of the time? The world is full of
people living together alone. Is there always an agenda when you do spend time
together? When was the last time you woke up with absolutely nothing planned and
said to each other, "What would you like to do today?" Or perhaps you
simply stopped trying to please each other somewhere along the way. Did you?
When did you stop trying to please her? And why? Don't you miss the happiness
you found in making someone else happy?
We all want to have great relationships, but we get distracted. We all want to
experience times of carefree timelessness, but we get preoccupied with and
distracted by all the urgent things.
Every morning when you wake up, you face a list of urgent things to do. Your
list of urgent things might be in your planner or on your desk; it might be on
your fridge or on your computer. Your list of urgent things might be in your
mind, it might be in your spouse's mind! But every day there's that list. We
rush around endlessly doing all these urgent things, and if we are not careful
we will rush around doing urgent things for the rest of our lives.
is, the most important things are hardly ever urgent.
When was the last time you woke up and said to yourself, "I urgently have
to work out today"? You don't urgently have to work out; you have to skip
your workout because you have urgent things to do. When was the last time you
said to your assistant, "Cancel all my meetings. I urgently need to read a
good book that will fuel my mind, expand my vision of myself and the world, and
intellectually stimulate me"? When was the last time you thought,
"What I really need to do urgently today is go down to Wild Oats and get
myself some fresh organic fruits and vegetables and make myself a truly great
meal that will genuinely fuel and energize my body"? You don't urgently
need to eat a good meal; you urgently need to go to the drive-through.
important things are hardly ever urgent.
In each of
the four areas of life (physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual) we
know what is most important, but we tell ourselves that we will attend to those
matters later, when we have finished with the urgent things. "I'll do it
when I get caught up!" we tell others and ourselves. This might not be so
much of a problem if we did actually do the most important things when we got
caught up. But we don't. Not because we don't want to, but because we never get
caught up. Seriously, when was the last time you sat down and you said to
yourself, "I'm caught up now!"
It doesn't happen. Your to-do list just gets longer and longer every day. You
never get caught up; you just get more and more behind every day. Some days you
feel as if your life has a momentum of its own, as if it would go on with or
without you. "Caught up?" Who are we kidding?
Because the most important things are hardly ever urgent, that is why we have to
place them at the center of our lives. We have to put them on our schedules,
because if we don't we simply won't get around to them. "Things which
matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least" was
We have to make carefree timelessness a priority.
The experts at carefree timelessness are, of course, teenagers.
Carefree timelessness. It is the reason young people fall in love so easily. The
lack of carefree timelessness is the reason the rest of us fall out of love so
easily. Carefree timelessness causes us to fall in love with life and others,
and it will help you move your relationships beyond the first level of intimacy.
The question is: How do we go about it?
Whether you decide you need some carefree timelessness with your spouse, your
boyfriend or girlfriend, your children or parents, or your friends and
colleagues, there are a thousand ways to create it.
The first thing you need to do is schedule it. Now I hear that objection in the
back of your mind. You are thinking, if I have to schedule it then it's not
carefree timelessness. Not so. Think back to our definition of carefree
timelessness, as time spent together without an agenda. I didn't say that it is
unscheduled and will happen all on its own. We know it won't. We have to
schedule it, but we don't need an agenda.
Let me give you an example of carefree timelessness. If you said to your wife,
"Let's plan to spend Friday afternoon together next week, and we will just
decide what we want to do when it comes around." That's time together, with
no agenda: carefree timelessness.
On the other hand, suppose you said to your wife, "Let's plan to spend
Friday afternoon together next week, and we can stop by the store and buy that
new television, return those trousers you bought me that didn't fit, have lunch,
pick up the kids, and then come home and finish raking those leaves." It is
certainly time together, but it also sounds anything but carefree.
Do you need some carefree timelessness with your significant other?
There are a thousand ways to spend your carefree timelessness. Nobody needs help
with that; you schedule the time together, and when the time arrives you simply
turn to each other and ask, "What would you like to do?"
If you have the drive and discipline to make carefree timelessness a habit in
your primary relationship, you will be stunned and amazed by how powerfully it
changes your life together. Make it a habit.
from The Seven Levels of Intimacy : The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
by Matthew Kelly