We beg for more time. It’s innate. It’s part of the human condition.
I’ve been on sabbatical for more than a year, and due to life and luck, I literally have no limitations on how I spend my time. My only limitation is my imagination. Even so, after a year, I’m left begging for more time.
How is that possible?
And having been as close to the promised land as physics will allow, I’m disappointed to say that “more time” isn’t a panacea. It’s time to give up the “more time” delusion. There is a better way.
Pre-sabbitical, I dreamed big, bucket-list dreams.
Rebuild a motorbike. Flyfish unexplored waters. Surf like Kelly Slater. Hit drives like Tiger. Read books that make me cry and giggle. Meet people that would change my world.
I was ready, but I made a critical miscalculation. This is how I thought the world was organized:
With all the time in the world, more life would just flow in.
I can tell you, it doesn’t work that way.
Over the past year, I didn’t rebuild a motorbike even though I bought one. I never found that hidden trout river: I got lost and had to sleep in a cave.
We incorrectly presume that more time unlocks the gifts of time.
Time is a gift box with a single key.
It turns out, the physics of life is limited by clock-time and place. Yet, all of our focus is on time. We mistakenly believe that more time equals more life.
This past year has revealed to me that place is the magical key. We can unlock the gifts of time by focusing on place, not time.
The missing link between the life you have and the life you want is finding ways to move yourself to the places that will create experiences, memories, connection and meaning.
Last year, I read many books on indigenous culture. Ancient people knew that all meaning was tied to place. They built temples and places of worship on their land with their people, not in the sky. To embolden their lives, they endowed deities and spirits to those places creating ceremonies of meaning. Place became meaning, not just location and people. While it might seem primitive to believe in many small deities tied to specific locations, it’s a powerful tool to help build a more meaningful life. By focusing on place not time, indigenous cultures lived more of life.
This last year when life got big and bright, when life seemed to slow down and swell with grace, it was because I found the magic of place.
My first sabbatical project was that motorbike. It never got rebuilt because I never found myself by its side. My hands never got dirty, not for a lack of desire, but because I was never in my garage.
In contrast to my garage, I did find myself two doors down the street.
The only regular commitment I had throughout last year was Sunday nights with my girlfriend... and her friend.
Two doors down, her friend was a mother-to-be: single, father out of the picture, between jobs, and 8,049 miles from home and family. My girlfriend and I decided we’d spend Sunday evenings two doors down as a small token of support. Perhaps if we never missed a Sunday night, our friend would feel support and love going into motherhood.
I couldn’t have anticipated what would happen. I was her chauffeur on delivery night. My girlfriend, her doula. Proud “Uncle” and “Auntie.”
Looking back, I can see that Sunday Night wasn’t just about Baby and Mother. Over time, Sunday Night became bright and swollen with meaning and life.
This all dawned on me when Baby and Mother delivered us to the airport for a trip that would last three months. In a moment I will never forget, goodbyes mixed with tears pancaked between cheeks. We were leaving a family created one Sunday night at a time.
Two doors down is place.