November 30, 2008
Listen to Life:  The Season of Hurried Times
The gravitational pull created by the huge mass that is the holidays already has a pull on me.  Maybe for you, too.  This pull drags us to parties, expectations, hopes and a complication of emotions.  Faster and faster we go as the pull carries us to the next event, the next store and the next story.  Which reminds me of a story about time and timing.
About a dozen years ago, I led a meeting with representatives of Sam Houston State University and the tribal leaders of the Alabama-Coushatta Indians to discuss a potential collaboration.  The project under discussion would be mutually beneficial and we had a potential funder interested in supporting it.  After a long, enthusiastic conversation with everyone there, it was clear that both sides wanted the project to succeed.  When the conversation wore down, I stated that there was a September deadline for the proposal.  One of the tribal leaders said that they would need to allow members of their community to discuss the project and the implications of the partnership.  I reminded them of the looking deadline.  The room fell quiet.  A leader leaned back in his chair and smiled.  He politely reminded me that they handled things differently in their culture and "there will be a September next year."  We ended up getting the project funded, but maybe we should think of handling time differently.
The lesson seems appropriate in these holiday times.  How much of what seems to be mandatory really needs to be done, bought or baked in the next three weeks?  This question comes up every holiday season.  Each year we are encouraged to forego unnecessary things during the holidays to relieve stress.  The lesson from the SHSU experience offers a different perspective:  sometimes the option is not to do or not to do, but whether the time is right now or later.  Some things can simply wait.  We need to resist the pull of the holidays and take our own pace.  We need to prioritize as to what is really important.
Yesterday, I attended the memorial service for a colleague's husband.  When I hugged her, she said, "Don't forget to hold on to Kim, hold onto each other, every day.  You never know..."
That is the greatest story of time and the holidays.  Now is not the right time for every thing; it is the right time to hold onto special friends and family in your life.  Love now is the spirit of the holidays, and that time transcends all cultures.

A free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com).  Copyright 2008 Dion McInnis.  All rights reserved.

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