There’s one thing that keeps coming up in conversations about luxury, and it has nothing to do with stuff and things and sensuality.
It doesn’t even cost money, not in the absolute, so it seems to feel less status-y, more wholesome.
That “thing” of course, is time. The luxury of doing nothing. The luxury of hanging out with friends. The luxury of focus. The luxury of time to do nothing. The luxury of an afternoon thats unplanned and unstructured, where you go with the flow of desire or instinct. (Sounds great to me.)
When we’re running about working, projecting, parenting, investing in our relationships/our bodies/our sanity, of course time feels like a luxury. Of course time feels precious and rare.
But is time inherently a luxury? I don’t think so.
After all, we all know people for whom too much time is the enemy. That friend with the crazy busy life who gets in a funk over holidays because no matter how much he says he craves “time”, he needs the structure of work to feel grounded and energized and worthwhile. Or that person who secretly looks at the moments and months and years spiraling in front of them and feels emptiness and dread. For them time is nothing but a burden. So no, it’s not a luxury.
And contrary to the notion that it’s the most democratic, least “status-y” of luxuries, it sometimes feels that time is the new status symbol, the new fetish. It’s certainly rare and apparently precious. And it’s often portrayed that people who’ve “made it” (“it” equalling $$$$) can indulge. And that is old luxury, not AltLuxe. In fact, it now feels the opposite of luxurious.
And how un-luxurious is the way our culture seems to define time as seen as as so scarce, so finite, that metaphors surrounding it are about hoarding and struggling. I personally loathe the pressure and anxiety inherent in phrases like “you have to ruthlessly prioritize your time” or “you have to make time for what you love”. And I particularly dislike the smug “finding balance” phrase. (Don’t get me started.) Definitely not luxurious, no pleasure there.
Luxury comes from what that time means. It’s the quality of it, the pleasure we derive from it. It’s not about more, it’s about right.
Of course, living this notion is easier said than done, for me at least. Maybe this is because I’ve been working for myself for so long, which means there’s a sense of always being “on”, of a general lack of boundaries between work and play and life. I have such a constant swirl of things I want to do that even when I’m doing the things that I say I want to do (getting that massage, seeing my friends, looking through that pile of Monocle mags hanging about in my office) I’m never really engaged because I have that to-do/you should list of things always running like a ticker at the edges of my consciousness.
But I think I’ve actually always had issues with the being in the moment/going with the flow thing, of being 100% engaged with what I’m doing. In fact, I never really “got” what the whole thing was all about … until I jumped out of a plane on a tandem dive. I remember thinking … “Oh shit this is what that guy [Csikszentmihalyi] meant by flow. There’s nothing else I can be doing right now, and who knows what this next moment is gonna bring and oh by the way it doesn’t matter..”
And finally, I relaxed into it, as I screamed and whooped my way down 10,000 feet. Zen, baby, zen.
I try to remember that moment and remind myself that it’s about happiness and contentment from our moments, not just more moments. I want that feeling of single-minded engagement with what I’m doing, whether baking a cake, writing a novel, or delivering a speech. I want that feeling of rightness, and most importantly I want to relax into that moment, to revel and wriggle my toes in it, to acknowledge how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing, experiencing what I’m experiencing. I want to savor it.
Change your relationship with time, and life feels a lot more luxurious, more delectable, more delicious, more pleasurable. The rules are the basics you’ve read everywhere but somehow, when I think about these as ways to increase pleasure, not just fine “balance” or “happiness” or “mindfulness”, they feel more attractive – and even slightly subversive – to me. I really don’t know if any of these will give you “more” time. But that’s not the point (plenty of other books for that.)
1. Stop that ticker running in your brain by getting and using a bullet journal.
2. Jump out of a plane or find a rave or go drive a fast car (safely) or climb a mountain or see a pro-sports game or go see an incredible spectacle … anything so you can get out of your head and into the moment. Feel what that feels like.
3. Do more of what you love, even for just a few minutes. (Don’t make time for it, just do it.) Procrastinating? Do it well. If you’re blowing off doing your taxes, make sure you’re doing something you really like. I believe in quality procrastination.
4. When you find yourself doing what you love give yourself a big thumbs up and a gold star and tell that inner critic of yours to eff-off.
5. Do less of what you hate (outsource it.)
Simple, right? Basically, do the things you love and love the things you do. After all, as that unlikely sage Sheryl Crow sings in Soak up the Sun, it’s not (just) about having what you want but wanting what you’ve got.
Yeah I know, not that simple, but then the best things in life often take a little work.
Love the watch in the image? I do. The Bradley watch is for the visually impaired but works for anyone. Designed by a new watchmaker called Eone, it indicates the time with magnetic ball bearings that can be read subtly by touch. More here.