Taking Time (an experiment)

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

ime doesn’t belong to you. first, how you spend the hours of your day gets defined by your school and your parents; later, by society’s requirement that you trade your time for money; and for those that choose it (not i, said the walrus) eventually eked out around the needs of children. the time that you get to yourself is always stolen, always wilfully taken in the face of other commitments. for those who go to work and get to come home, leaving their job at the office (and how many of those are there left, at this point?) this may not be a dire struggle, but for the rest of us — for anyone who runs their own business — for anyone with a passion that does not immediately align with the pressures of a capitalist society — for artists — time is the hottest commodity.

For anyone who runs their own business — for anyone with a passion that does not immediately align with the pressures of a capitalist society — for artists — time is the hottest commodity.

i spend a lot of my time thinking about time. the non-linear nature of it, the way it folds in on itself when you have a sense memory, how to communicate with myself at various moments throughout my life rather than get stuck thinking i am where i am…but more on that in a later post. i also spend time thinking about how i can use time, how i can be in command of time rather than letting it throw me around. i am bizarrely ambitious, ambitious not only in one artistic medium but multiple, and also demanding a quality of life higher than ‘starving artist.’ so i’ve become what my friend heather calls a “life scientist,” posing a hypothesis and taking it out into the field for experimentation.

today, i’m exploring a hypothesis related to productivity. i finally moved into my own flat in manchester this week, after a month and a half of living between my sister’s home about an hour outside of the city, and a variety of airbnbs and friends’ places when i came in for my postgraduate taught classes in fiction & poetry. i’ve been writing more than i ever have before, to deadlines that are coming faster and faster, but with no regularity — no specific space, place, or time i know that i’ll get to work. (although, let me tell you, that hour-long train commute was pretty golden.) this past weekend, as i grounded in the space and did boring things like stock up on paper towels and actual full-size toiletries, i began to think of this moment as a turning point in my creativity, a moment in a new space, a new city, a new situation, a new country, a new continent: a new chance to create my life.

I have come to believe that there are four segments, tops, in a day — that you have the ability to choose four priorities per day — and those priorities need to include self care.

ere’s the hypothesis i’m formulating right now: i have come to believe that there are four segments, tops, in a day — that you have the ability to choose four priorities per day — and those priorities need to include self care. think of it as morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, and evening, if you’d like — though these don’t have to be set in stone.

this weekend i’ve defined that those four segments for me are:

  • writing — fiction, non-fiction, poetry, lyric
  • work / taking care of business — the work that i do for my boss, pioneering media scholar henry jenkins, the tasks that i do to take care of my own life, and homework (just like a teenager…)
  • people — whether you call me an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert, i need people. some days this can be as little as a fifteen minute phone call or vox; others, an entire evening.
  • refueling — this is my grab bag category. this can be exercise, a really good bath, watching a movie or tv show, going to an awesome exhibit, or working on any art (music, video, interactive) that doesn’t fall under the writing category. this segment is FOR ME: whatever feels best that day goes.

so this is the experiment i’m taking into this transitional moment of my life. can i allow each day to contain these four elements, these four pieces? can i create regularity in how i spend my time, and prioritize most the hours that go towards my own writing? can my creative output be rooted in daily practice that occurs, ideally, at the same time of day each day? can i lead in my dance with time, rather than follow?

Can i lead in my dance with time, rather than follow?

and i don’t want to do this in a void — i find growth occurs more easily in connection with others. so if you feel like playing, leave a note below: if you had to define four priorities in your life, what would they be? what are you doing to lead your own dance with time?

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joss // areté

www.arete.space. Avant-pop art bender — obsessed with culture, mental health, feminism, queerness + travel.