The Luxury of Time Untracked

“Clocks slay time. He said time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life."
(William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury)

“I don’t keep track of time,” said my son this morning when I asked him what the clock said. What a luxury that is, I thought. 

Living without keeping track of time would mean being fully engaged in whatever I was doing, being free to pursue my own passions, my own muses, my own curiosity at my own pace. It would mean giving the people in my life truly undivided, unlimited attention. I would create more. I would notice more. I would learn more. I would give more. I would love more. (I think.)

Modern life is such that most of us adults can’t operate with complete disregard for time. (Actually, most school-aged children can’t either.) We have responsibilities and commitments that are tied to a clock. Ignoring the clock could be detrimental to our relationships. We think of time as being limited and we are afraid of wasting what time we have. Those of us who are parents have time constraints that are multiplied by a factor of however many children we have living under our roofs and again by how many activities and interests each has.

But, occasionally we get glimpses of what the luxury of living without tracking time feels like. For example, my favorite vacations are the ones where this happens at least some of the time. It happens on the days when I allow myself to wake up when I’m ready, rather than at the sound of an alarm, to a wide-open day that is full of possibility. No schedules. No commitments. On the best of these days, I find myself talking to people, seeing things, and having experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Serendipity gets a chance to rule the day.

Note: I said "some of the time." Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not entirely against schedules and time commitments. They have their own benefits. Time constraints also have their advantages. I just enjoy having a break from them now and again.

What would life without keeping track of time look like for you? What interests would you pursue? Do you want more time away from the clock in your life? What do you need to do in order to have it?