We Don’t Have a Lot of Time HereJuly 29, 2009 Leave a comment
Tomorrow is the 18th anniversary of my friend Scott Lago’s death.? Scott was as much a brother to me as a friend and we worked together bringing the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt around the country in the late 1980s, setting up and managing displays of the quilt, a memorial for those who’ve died of AIDS. He affected my life in many ways, many of them very funny – but the one I’m remembering today is that when we’d be working with a group of people on setting up a display of the quilt, if someone started getting into what seemed like endless details about things he felt were unnecessary, preventing the group from moving forward, you’d notice Scott quietly tapping his watch face with his index finger. He was saying to those of us who knew him, “Can’t we get on with it? We don’t have a lot of time here.” While Scott knew on a cellular level that he didn’t have a lot of time here, I find myself sometimes looking around to see whether anyone else might be tapping their watch face.
And so it is this fine balance we seek to find in social change work – between not wasting what is, truly, precious time with endless details and at the same time, “going slow to go fast” – making sure we build solid agreements and cover enough to set things up for success. Might we sometimes spend a little too much time planning? None of us really have a lot of time here – the world is waiting!
And wherever Scott is, he’s watching what’s happening in the world and quietly tapping the face of his watch.
Preach it, sister!
Ah, our relationship to time. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since turning 40. Life suddenly seems that much shorter and more precious. If I let myself think about it enough, I can get panicky that I have to get moving, make my mark, plumb my potential. And I have to be careful to not make it all about me, my legacy. I also have to be careful not to confuse getting on with it by being busy with getting on with it by being. I’ve been sitting with this Permaculture concept – “Maximum contemplation, minimum action.” There seems to be tremendous wisdom in that statement. It’s not about laziness or shirking responsibility, but bringing a tempered perspicacity (not endless planning) to our work in the world. How about operating from there?
i have the ‘time bug’ too and believe we could save so much time if people would just drop the unimportant stuff and censor themselves every once in a while. for some it is hard to get passed the idea that most of what we think is not worth expressing and it is even harder to come to terms with the idea that most of what we think is also not worth believing.
tick tock tick tock tick tock…