• Mohana Prabhakar

Not enough time

It always seems like we have so much to do and so little time to do it. I’ve had this conversation with many of my friends and we seem to have the same hectic schedules. This is whether you are working, you’re a stay-at home mum or dad, a billionaire or flat broke.

There I was sitting on the couch reading and thinking that I still have four more books to finish on the table next to me. Simultaneously, I start thinking I really should spend some time this weekend to sort out the shelves in the new cupboard we’ve bought. But people are coming over for dinner and there is still so much to be done. And of course, I have nothing to wear so I really should go check what’s hiding in my closet and organise everything (again).

This is just at home. Work is another ballgame and one I am not going to get into here. But somewhere along the way, I had again lost sight of what is truly important. I got so involved in the minutiae of everyday life that I’d forgotten the promises I made to myself at an airport seven years ago.

I was at Ahmedabad airport waiting for my flight back home. It was a trip I’d made numerous times before, and through sheer repetition, a pattern had formed – one that had a comforting familiarity to it. This time, however, there was a huge difference. There was just one parent who had come to drop me off. It had hit me when I woke up that morning that my father would not be coming to the airport anymore as he always did, come rain or shine.

When I had gone back to see him exactly one month after his six-hour long surgery, he was there at five in the morning waiting for me. Subsequent chemo or any ailments never saw him absent – I would always spot him first, waiting outside with his silver hair shining.

Knowing that you will never be able to speak to someone again has a way of clearing out the clutter from your mind. Though I had been to visit him almost every month after he was ill, I sat at the airport thinking I had so much more to say to him.

I remember writing down a few words, the main gist of which was that I’d always make time for what’s important from then on.

Keeping in touch with family. Writing, calling, visiting – the number of times I have planned to do any or all of it and got sidetracked is inexcusable. There is always something that will come up if you let it. Think about it: Do our parents get to see our children as much as we got to see our grandparents? The ‘quality time’ phrase is

one I really dislike. To me, quality in this context implies ‘less of’ compensated by ‘more value’. When it comes to spending time with your family, quantity is as important.

Making time to do more of what makes me happy. I don’t want to say goodbye to the world thinking of all the things I should have done, but didn’t because of some silly reason. Like, oh I have work, or oh, I need to be at this function and so on. We fall into that everyday cycle and before you know it, another year has gone by.

Travelling, and I don’t mean to exotic places necessarily. There was a time when we left the house early on Friday mornings to go explore. My husband and I both had one day off a week and yet we made time. Two-day weekends came, we seemed to have far more commitments but not necessarily things that make us happier.

The problem with this whole ‘indomitable human spirit’ thing is that even as it makes us stronger and helps us move on, it also makes us forget some vital lessons. Once in a way, it’s good to stop as I did that day at the airport, take a deep breath and try and figure out what and who is really important. Then, make time.

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