Tempus Fugit (Time Flies)

On this first day of summer, we’re reflecting on the complexities and emotional challenges of scheduling and managing time. Why does managing our schedules often feel so stressful, chaotic, and even triggering?

The episode begins with Rachael admitting: “I’m laughing at how we on the Allender Center Podcast could take a topic like scheduling and dive into the deep recesses of the complexity of it.”

The truth is that scheduling is not just about logistics and managing time, but also about dealing with deeper issues like desire, grief, hope, and connection. 

The seemingly simple act of arranging our days can bring to the surface feelings of loss, as we confront the limits of what we can realistically accomplish. It can reveal our deepest desires, highlighting what we prioritize and what we long to make time for. Our schedules can also be a source of hope, as we plan for future events and possibilities, and a reflection of our need for connection, as we coordinate our time with others.

Join us for what we hope is a relatable conversation on how we navigate this common aspect of life, recognizing the emotional layers beneath the surface of our calendars and to-do lists.

Episode Transcript:

Dan: I don’t think people have much of an idea how we make decisions on what to talk about. And a lot of times we’ve got this great privilege of having good friends, people who have written, people who have a strong message, and I love those moments. And then we will pick topics that we know are important because we don’t want to talk about it? Or I’ll at least say, I don’t want to talk about it. This happens to be one of those moments, scheduling. Scheduling, and whether it’s for the summer and your plans or whether it’s for what’s coming this fall, scheduling happens to be one of those arenas that Becky and I do not do well, relationally, spiritually, physically, somatically. Trauma wise, it’s trauma. I don’t like this. I don’t like this topic. So lead us off.

Rachael: Oh, my laughter or my face is not mockery. It’s more the, I’m laughing at how we on the Allender Center Podcast could take a topic like scheduling and dive into the deep recesses of the complexity of it. And essentially we came to this really just thinking about how do we approach summer, which not very much in our United States of America, does it really lead to any kind of leisure time because we don’t really have good paid leave, but at least people might be compelled to take a week vacation as a normative thing. And I know you’re in a different season of life this summer and you’re an academic, so the summer does hold different rhythms. So we came to this topic just thinking through how would we want to talk about how we intention our time, which did open up a maelstrom of, okay, we’re in the realm of talking about the reality of death. We’re talking about time, we’re talking about existential angst. We’re talking about the impact of trauma. We’re talking about the trauma of our world and sociological anthropological realities of trying to connect with other human beings and our chaos and our busyness and capitalism. And we’re talking about different styles of relating and desire.

Dan: Stop. I mean stop. I can’t take anymore seriously. I do not want to come close to any strong words, but it’s like, no, no wonder I didn’t want to talk about this. Look in a very simple category, when Becky and I usually she’ll be the one to say, we need to look at our schedule, just word schedule. I freeze and internally like, oh, okay, okay, yeah, I know we need to do that, but I can’t right now. She’s like, well, you’re free right now. You have nothing else to do. No, no, no. I really need to go think about we’re going to do a podcast on scheduling. I didn’t say that.

Rachael: That’s good. That’s wise.

Dan: There’s this element of the moment we come to the calendar, there’s something that gets triggered, I’ll say for me, but for both of us, and I don’t know, there may be only a handful of y’all who feel comparably, but there is something about messing with time, money, and a lot of other material you can get more of. But there is something about the old Latin phrase, Tempus Fugit. Again, it means time flies, but there’s something more to that. Meaning there is something ethereal, something intangible, even if it’s TikTok time. But there is something that you know, you don’t get to do over with regard to the reality of time. And so when we come to that schedule, it just feels like it’s thick, complicated. And why? Do you and Michael have this? I certainly know Becky and I do.

Rachael: Yeah, I mean even before Michael, I would say just being an adult and trying to be intentional with time and think ahead and make plans that involve any other human being is so fraught. Because I think when we’re doing anything with intentionality, even the mundane of scheduling doctor’s appointments or your normal work schedule, whatever your labor may be or whatever the structure of that is, we are in the realm of desire and hope and living life. And we all have different stories or what’s the word you used? Gosh, it was so good. Scheduling temperaments, we all have different, because it felt so generous. We all have different scheduling temperaments based on our relationship to time, to conflict and how we want to engage conflict, to desire and how to attachment and connecting to others. So there’s something about the simple act of penning something down that does feel, I mean, just alone, the introverts in the podcast room, I mean there’s all kinds of memes about how scheduling as an introvert, it does feel a little bit like, well, how am I going to know a week from now what I actually feel like I have emotional capacity for? And how sometimes when someone cancels on you for a social event, they’re like, I’m so sorry. And you’re like, thank god! So, I mean, again, there’s so many angles that we could come to this by which, but I will say yes, this is something that Michael and I have very different temperaments in how we come to it because I, even though it’s scheduling in and of itself does feel like a war for all the competing reasons we’ve talked about, I actually find a lot of comfort in having things nailed down. I mean, even the metaphors are like, okay, I’m assuming nailed down either a house building or a coffin. I’m not quite sure which one the metaphor’s going for, but we have very different styles. You’re the etymologist. For me, it’s building a house. It’s laying the foundation for how you’re going to utilize what is coming and how to executive function. I think especially a lot of women could feel this. I’m not saying it’s exclusive to women, but how I’m going to executive function, all the details that go around maintaining a schedule or what even needs to be anticipated or thought about. I actually get relief once it’s on the calendar ’cause I at least know what I’m working with. Whereas I can’t speak for Michael, but I feel like a part of what he feels is a little bit like now my time is bound to that thing. What if there’s something else I need to attend to? Or what if somebody asks me to do something and then I’m no longer available because this thing, I don’t think that’s fully what he feels, but I can tell we come to it with very different needs and I kind of convince my needs are maybe priority.

Dan: Well, how about that? The reality is I think that’s fairly similar. Becky wants concrete clarity as to when something’s going to be done and in larger sense how we get to share that together. And I don’t mind being pinned down by time. I don’t find myself squirming that something else may come up that I may wish to do more. It’s more the complexity that when I’m pinned down, there’ll be other requests, other possibilities that now I’m going to have to say no to. And at one level I’m relieved because I may not wish to do that. And it’s sort of a nice, well, I’m so sorry, but we won’t be able to do that. But there is that sense in which by pinning yourself down, you’re creating an array of disappointment, again, with adult children who I adore and love and want to be with. But when I schedule a conference and that’s the one weekend they’re able to have us come and visit, then it’s like, oh, I just don’t like the implication that I’m going to further disappoint because of prior commitments. And so in any regard, I can tell there is this fundamental, I don’t want to do this. I know we need to do it, but now we’ve got the tensions of what you put, I think even better language too, what Becky wants to do and put in the calendar may not be what I want to do and put in the calendar. There was a announcement that in our church availability for eight folks to join together to have a meal. And Becky was like, I’d really like to do that. And it sounded like it was eight women who are going to be joining together. And I’m like, oh, good honey, I’m glad to eat alone. You go. And then I was on a trip and she sent me a text going, oh, I forgot to tell you I’ve made a mistake. It’s not for eight women, it’s for four couples. And I’ve agreed that we’re going to be going June, blah, blah, blah, to so-and-so’s house. And initially, again, I’m an introvert. I’ve got enough people contact, I’m all good for you to be with as many people as you wish, and now you want me to join you. In fact, you signed us up. So those tensions may not be directly about scheduling, but it’s where it comes to the head of what am I having to give up to now join her in things that really matter to her. And I want to claim I love doing that. Sometimes I do. But now scheduling it, now it’s in the calendar and I find myself, even as I speak, maybe just a titch resentful. So desire, disappointment, the sense of being pinned down, the uncertainty as to who you will eventually disappoint. All that seems to be rolling around and it’s actually very helpful, maybe not to anyone else but to go, oh my gosh, that’s happening when we even make summer plans. How about for you?

Rachael: Yeah, I mean, again, some of the realities of our world in trying to be and the desire to be intentional is actually a desire for presence. And I think that that’s what is, I would say at least in my home as we’re navigating this and with my friendships as we’re navigating, when will there be intentional time to be able to connect? The desire is towards presence and connection, which is a really beautiful good thing. But yeah, we also co-parent. So we are planning a very busy, our kids are preteens and teenagers and a toddler, and we are with our children, our older children, my stepsons, 50% of the time, they go between our home and their mom’s home every other week. And so even trying to, we have to be really intentional about scheduling with our co-parent and looking at the summer has to start in January because you’ve got to plan childcare when school’s out and trying to plan vacations that align with various families and sharing space and being generous, but also wanting to make the most of your time. And so yeah, I think it’s like we want to be able to think ahead, but we’re still just navigating tomorrow’s schedule and are we going to make it and are all the pieces and parts going to fit together and are people going to get where they need to go and get picked up from school? And what time will Evie go to bed? We have a toddler nap time schedule and bedtime schedule with teenager sports schedules. So I think for our family, and I’ve always been a little bit existential… just a tiny bit.

Dan: Oh… sorry, I’m on the border of mockery.

Rachael: I’ve also shared on this podcast some of those that I remember when we talked about aging parents, I talked about on this podcast how when I first moved to Seattle, it was my first time living far away from my family. And I actually started doing the math if I lived here for this many years and my parents lived to be this old and I got home three times a year and maybe they came once a year, I would see my parents, I think it was something like 55 times in person for the rest of my life, I’ve always had a little bit of a counting down the time. In some ways, for whatever reason, death has always felt eminent. Even if I’m going well, that eminency could be like, I don’t know if eminency is a word, but that connection with death might be 80 years down the road if I lived to be 120, which is not going to happen. But one can wish that science advances. And I’m not saying I want to like, okay, I digress going off on a rabbit trail here. I all that to say, I was just hearing your words. You want to live to be 120, you sure about that? But first grade, I had my first experience of just the passing of time. And in some ways we don’t have a huge luxury of time in the grand scheme of the world. And I think about this with my teenagers because my mother-in-law is here with us in Philly to help us with childcare for a season, which just feels like such an extravagant gift. And I don’t know if they’ve caught on yet, what a gift it is to have a grandparent so close. Because when you’re that age, typically you think so many of these things are going to, it’s just going to keep coming back around. And you have all the time in the world and you don’t know that some of these experiences you have, you may not get another chance to have that experience because you don’t have that kind of perception or perspective yet of life. So not trying to make scheduling too existential. I think as you put words to, it’s what comes up in us, even in the mundane and the small.

Dan: So even if people don’t buy what we’re saying for themselves, the reality is you don’t have a phrase that has been in existence for a long season. Tempus Fugit, time flies. It isn’t just that it passes, it’s that it can’t be controlled. And there’s something about putting something in a calendar that gives you some degree of control, but in that there’s a loss. You have made a commitment, a decision, and that decision, as we have said before, the core to the word decision has the same word as suicide, homicide, death. When you make a decision, there’s a death to other opportunities. So in one sense, I think there is the reality that almost all forms of spontaneity get lost when there is too much control over time. Yet without some degree you can’t deal with the issue of fragmentation. So I would say look at two ends. Look at the polar reality that on one hand, without something on the calendar, you’ve got the fragmentation of who’s going to pick our son up at school? I mean, somebody’s in the pool, they need to be picked up. So you have chaos without the calendar yet with it, there is a sense in which there’s a kind of like the bell tolls, this is an hour you will not have ever back again. So playing between a loss of spontaneity or the potential for greater chaos leaves, I feel like I’m like a pinball bouncing off one side to the next side. We need it in the calendar. Don’t pin me down and don’t create in my world with my children, with my staff, with friends. When somebody says, Hey, do you want to get coffee? And I’m like, oh, this sounds so self-important and elitistic, like, I’d love to. I think I’ve got some time in September and it’s not true, but it’s true. And so it seems insane to have that kind of, I know my schedule’s full… Now, part of the difficulty, at least for someone like me is that my hours are not so full with appointments, but with tasks that require time to actually ponder, read, think. So, yeah, I could go for coffee, but I also have a major article to write and I have no clue how much time it’s going to take. So I’m going to set aside these two days. Do I have an hour? Yeah. Now again, the complications of that schedule, I just want to ignore it and then leave it. This is where my wife, if she listens to this podcast, which I’m grateful she does, and sometimes she doesn’t. This is where she just goes nuts because you’re leaving it all on me. I’m like, you just let me know what we’re going to do. And yet I resent it when she goes ahead and fills it. It’s that bind and it’s a bind of Tempus Fugit. So it’s existential, it’s fragmentation, it’s the issue of spontaneity. It’s disappointing others. All I’m saying is there’s a host of issues getting something on the calendar. I’m curious for you and Michael, what helps?

Rachael: I mean as simple as this sounds like really getting clear about what our desires are for our family and our use of time. And one of those things that’s come up in this particular season is like how do we want to steward the privilege of time that we sometimes have because of the jobs we have, because of some of the freedoms we have that other people in the world don’t. So really being clear, together, what are our hopes for the next three months for our family? And some seasons, the hopes are, I would say this particular summer, one of the things we said was getting to be present and taking the time, which means our kids are in baseball and swim most of the summer. So instead of traveling a lot or being on the road a lot, let’s do some fun stuff in the area that doesn’t require as much logistics and stress and anxiety and money for our family. And you know what we actually, I appreciate that Michael is more spontaneous. It works out for him a lot. And the part of me that’s like if you don’t plan all hell breaks loose, really would like to see maybe just one time where it really blows up. But I think because he is more of like a, let’s just go with the flow and see what happens. We can figure it out a lot of times, even if there’s disruptions or bumps. Here’s an example on Easter Sunday, we decided to go to church for, we hadn’t been in a while because our kids play baseball on Sunday mornings and then we were going to go to a marketplace in Philly and get lunch. Well, the marketplace wasn’t open and I was like, did you Google it to see if it was open? And it’s like, well no, because it’s always open, but it’s Easter. So he says, oh, let’s just go to Chinatown and get dumplings. I’m like, great, that sounds great. We try to go to Chinatown. There’s the spring festival parade that we didn’t take into account, but we find parking. We witnessed half of the parade and we still go sit down and have dumplings. Now what lunch we thought was going to take an hour ended up taking two, two and a half hours. But it was actually a lovely surprise for our family on a day that didn’t have anything penciled in to the schedule. And I actually have to say it’s been really good for my anxious body to have moments where we are on more of an adventure to see what will come and what will happen. And certainly we have moments where nothing happens because we didn’t plan well, and that’s its own thing. But I think we do try to be really clear about what our non-negotiables are as far as how we’re spending time with our family, or if we start feeling like it’s too chaotic, where do we need to scale back and what kind of connection do we want with each other? And so it does actually take vulnerability and being more clear about what we’re longing for and what we’re hoping for our family. It actually made us ridiculous as it sounds, scheduling in the time to talk about what we want to make sure we’re actually having that conversation. It takes, I think, also a larger imagination of community because it’s not just our kids and our immediate family we want to connect with. There’s a desire to connect with neighbors and connect with friends and connect with family who live in different parts of the US. And so I think the third thing I would say is we do have to deal with grief because you’re absolutely right. To say yes to some things means saying no to other things. And those could be really good, beautiful things that we want to be able to say yes to or being realistic about the resources available to us in any particular season, whether it be time resources or financial resources, communal resources. And so a capacity to hold that tension, that part of being an adult and trying to live with integrity and to live well. It is a capacity to grieve that we are finite and we do have limitations and we can’t be everywhere all at once. And we could stay really fragmented and be kind of dissociated and just get by and then wake up four years from now and be like, where did the time go? But we really don’t want to do that even though it’s tempting. It’s really tempting. And I understand why people choose to move through life more at the mercy of it than feeling any sense of volition. And I’m not saying that we all have equal volition over how time is utilized in our life, but…

Dan: Oh, so profoundly true. You begin to intersect socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and sense of obligation, sense of interdependency or a false… I mean time is where a great deal of the wars of the human heart play out. So I think one of the things for Becky and I, we have come at least to be able to know whenever the phrase “we need to look at the calendar” that, and I think this is true for me, that it is for Becky, but it is an issue of trauma. Things have not gone well. I’ve not handled conversations about time and future commitments with both wisdom and openness and curiosity and kindness. So just to be able to start with this is fraught ground and depending on the nature of some of the decisions, I mean some about what are we going to do tomorrow night, don’t have some of the same weight. But on the other hand, being aware that we can’t just walk in and maybe other couples who could just sit down with a calendar go, yeah, how about this? We do that. It’s a war zone for us. And so just to name that creates a different potential to be able to grow towards safety. And I think that honoring and there’ve been a number of decisions where Becky has said, just as you put it brilliantly, we need to schedule time. It’s going to be in your calendar this hour or these two hours to talk about what we’re doing in the summer. And just that we need to step back and go, we need time to pray. We need to be able to honor what it means when certain tensions come up to be able to say, we’re going to take a pause. We don’t have to come to a completeness in these two hours. She’s brilliant at being able to go, you need to go walk. Just take a five minute walk, see if you can find God, see if you’ll let him find you, and then we’ll come back. And that knowing its danger gives us more ground to be able to utilize the resources we do have to be able to walk through difficult matters. That’s been huge for us to market. And again, it’s always that issue of we perceive other couples, other people to be able to handle this with no big deal, not for us. So how do we prepare? How do we anticipate? But then again, I’m just riffing off what you said. So often it’s backed down to what matters, what really matters. And when I discovered that I’ve been included in the eight for several meals with folks, I’m like, oh, okay, not really thrilled. What is it for you? What is it that you want? What is it that this provides that other things don’t? So I think in some ways coming back, we’ve said this much of our work is based on it, but it’s amazing how quickly even those who are in it forget it. And that is, I need to know the story. I need to know the story of why having dinner with four other couples from our church matters to you. And so I won’t go through the whole process, but it’s a concatenating. She brings us back to our earliest years in a church in Boca Raton, Florida and memories. And then she goes back into the conversation about what she saw of her parents in their church and the friendships that were developed then she’s beginning to name in our highly peripatetic busy and some ways somewhat introverted, isolated life, what has cost her? So I’m hearing dreams, I’m hearing memories, but I’m also hearing heartache involved in a simple decision to join a dinner group. And by the time we finish, I’m heartbroken, I’m angry, I’m distant, I want to quit. I also want to serve. It’s almost again like, oh my gosh, in any one moment, any one decision, our whole life shows up. And if we can allow the contours of our whole life, including as we’ve tried to underscore the reality of death in the decision that you choose and other decisions then are not able to be made. All that to be able to say, honor how difficult, it is at least for some, to be face-to-face with this existential, traumatic, historical, interpersonal, spiritual process of making use, making creative use of time. Well, before we go too much further, is this at all helpful for you as you think about your summer?

Rachael: It is. And where I find my heart kind of finding some rest, and this has to do more with my theological convictions, is that I have experienced what we’ve talked about before in other Allender Center offerings as kairotic or kairos time of God. And how when we, it’s like another dimension of time and we all know the experience of it when time slows down and we are able to take something in sometimes, whether we intention it or not, my favorite moments of that are when I’m caught by surprise, which feels like such a gift of grace that I wasn’t necessarily making space for, but it stops me in my tracks and invites me to whether it’s an experience of beauty in our world, witnessing something beautiful between human beings or a beautiful sunset. Whether it’s those magical moments where there is a moment of shalom around a table with your kids playing a board game and something in you knows, oh, this is precious. What we’re tasting right now is what we’re made for. And it’s precious and it’s fleeting, but it feels like it gets to linger and time expands. And so I just find myself kind of in some of the despair I feel around why does something like scheduling have to be so hard? And we didn’t even talk extensively about that. We named them, but the outside forces of the powers of this world that don’t… you know want us to be dissociated and even more fragmented and more disconnected and more in despair. But I also take a lot of hope that even when we aren’t able to find our way through with the kind of integrity and presence and clarity of mind that we want, that the Spirit of God still disrupts our lives and offers us gifts of wild connection with God and with others that actually help us remember what it is we’re meant for. And in some ways what it is we’re fighting for, even in something as simple as trying to be intentional and kind and curious in how we bring our desires to fit them into a construct like time.

Dan: Yes, well, we are called to redeem time, which I think is again what we’ve been talking about, but there’s the other side of letting time redeem us and to let the reality of, it is fleeting. It cannot be held for long, even in memory it’s somewhat fading and fragmented. But in all that, I love that core word letting… even if you have a well scheduled hour day summer plan, you don’t know what’s going to happen in it. There is a fundamental spontaneity of the playfulness of the Spirit of God on our behalf. And there are times with utter spontaneity where you still have to make hard and difficult decisions even then as to what you’ll do and what you won’t. So we may be between those two polarities, but they also always play together. But also way more important, the Spirit of God is playing with us in the face of time, but also outside of time. And that interplay of TikTok, kronos, kairos, that sense of it is a thin universe between the scene and the unseen, between the world of eternity, timelessness, and the world of time. And just being willing to in one sense be in the playful tension between those worlds. That’s where I want to be captured, at least for us. As we have been praying and talking, we redid our deck, which was one large expense. And what Becky said when we began doing our summer plans, she said, I plan to be on my deck, it cost a lot of money. I want to be on it. And I’m like, great, just reading. And she goes, I want people, I want to be alone. I want to be able to see the wind blow. I want to be able just to come out and snuggle with you as the twilight comes. And I’m like, oh, alright. So maybe we don’t know time, but we certainly in this case, know place and place sometimes help you make decisions on time. Well, whatever your summer holds, I don’t know fully why, but I do feel more excited about going. Yeah, let’s take this a little bit further and let’s see what we can create and what time can create on our behalf.

Rachael: Amen.