The ‘Free Time’ Freakout

This weird phenomenon happens when I have free time. I freak out.

As a dad-entrepreneur-husband-counselor-activist-writer I’m constantly searching for that elusive free time. I wrote a frickin’ book on making more time in the day (though it was hard to find time to write it). I’m sort of obsessed with finding, making, and squeezing little droplets of juice out of time.

Then I come upon it – say, Molly decides to run to the park with the kids or one of my appointments cancels at the last minute – and it’s like coming across an unexpected clearing in the thickets. It’s exactly what I need!

But almost immediately I’m struck by the realization that I don’t know what to do with it, with this grassy expanse of free time.

There are so many options. I could run through it, lay down in, sleep in it, set up a telescope and study the stars in it, sit down and write about it, pet the animals in it, mow it, water it, use it to figure out how to make more of it…

Before long, I’m wringing my hands and circling the edge of the clearing, priorities drifting overhead like clouds as the thickets close in. It’s exhausting, walking in these circles. And what a waste of my time. My free time! I’d better think of something fast.

Fortunately, as a person obsessed with time, I’ve figured out a way to quell these freak-outs.

It is to do nothing.

It seems counter-intuitive but I just sit the fuck down. I read or breathe or meditate or just sit on the ground as if perched by the edge of that clearing in the woods, hearing the rustle of the soft, dry blades of grass coming up with a plan.

And then, after a few minutes, whether by God or Fate or the Mystery of Time, the wind brings in a message, the tickle of the grass on my palm begins to spell out a very good idea, and the clearing beckons me to the center.

Suddenly, as if the answer was always there, it’s obvious what comes next.