Eternity in Seventeen Minutes

“Can you just lay here a minute?” I asked.

On the crest of a deep sigh, my husband allowed his head to collapse into the pillow.  “We’re doing this again, are we?”

“Yes.”

“Honestly, I don’t know what you get out of it.”

“Shhh,” I replied.  “Everything.”  I spread my left arm outward, searching.  Finding his, I let the skin of our forearms touch, content for the contact—for his reluctant but loving acquiescence to this odd ritual.  His fingers found mine, intertwined for a moment, and then released.

“How long today?  You’re going to have to get going, it’s almost—“

“Shhh!” I smiled.  “Hey Siri, set my timer for seventeen minutes.”

Beep Beep. Okay, seventeen minutes and counting!

Beside me, I heard him chuckle through another sigh.  He didn’t speak though; he knew this was important to me.  I set my gaze toward the pair of Pothos hanging on the wall and let myself get lost in the soft glow of the early afternoon sun that diffused itself across the cool grey walls of the bedroom.

He was right, of course.  He’s almost always right.  It was 1:50pm on an unremarkable Tuesday afternoon.  He was home early, and I needed to be out the door by 2:20 to get to work on time.  The weather was nice enough to ride my bike, so I could push it if I needed to, but this little break we were taking together meant I’d have a scant thirteen minutes to gather what I needed for the day and get on my way.

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Revenge is better with a side of bacon. . . 

Perhaps if I’d have packed up first thing in the morning my seventeen minutes could have been twenty four, but I’m a procrastinator, so that would have been out of character.

None of that mattered right now, though.  I set my thoughts adrift, knowing that the currents of time would wash them back ashore in short order.  Right now I didn’t need them.

Right now I was enjoying the eternity that was seventeen minutes of quiet, alone together.  Later, when everything was hectic—when I was stressed at work and counting the minutes until I could go back home again—I’d remember this brief oasis in the otherwise harsh landscape of my day.  The memory of these idle moments would cool my nerves and refresh my spirit over and over again.

There is so much pleasure in allowing ourselves to just be.  And seventeen minutes of absolute nothing really is an eternity if you live as hectically as I do.

A Hectic Life

Lately I’ve consumed almost every free moment with the launch of my writing career.  When I’m not writing this blog, I’m thinking about writing it, trying to maintain and grow a presence on Twitter (which does not come naturally to me), trying to come up with a new title for my forthcoming novel, imagining what the cover art should look like, checking my email to see if the manuscript is back from the editor, reading and commenting on other blogs (which I’ve really been loving), reading other books inside and outside my genre, trying to figure out what my next book is going to be about, and compulsively checking my blog stats to see if I’ll continue the readership growth streak that started a few weeks ago.  And that’s just my stuff!

We’re also working really hard to get my husband’s photography business up and running.  We’ve got a separate blog for that which I’ll talk more about soon, but it’s not quite ready yet.  Add to all of this the necessity to eat (the lovely AS Akkalon has some thoughts on this), clean myself, help maintain our household, and go to the job that pays me forty-hours a week, and well. . .

Hectic.

I’m not complaining.  Far from it.  Working toward the tangible realization of our creative dreams has left me feeling more fulfilled than I’ve ever been!  I don’t mind that I sleep an average of six hours a night.  It’s all worth it.  Even though I sometimes feel entirely divorced from reality, I wouldn’t trade this life we’re living right now for anything.

A Necessary Escape

So, you see, seventeen minutes of nothing is more than a luxury.  It’s a necessity.  It’s my opportunity to float, careless, atop the gentle waves of the wider universe.  It’s a time to be really and fully present, while being totally still.

I’m not a very spiritual person, but I suppose this falls into the category of mindfulness.  Other people meditate, or pray.  This is my equivalent.

Back in the bedroom, a short four minutes into our afternoon break, I could feel my husband’s breathing slow beside me.  The feeling of his chest rising and falling in its lazy rhythm helped to slow my own respiration.  I could feel time decelerate as well.

Eternity in seventeen minutes; the timer on my phone was irrelevant.

Overhead the ceiling fan turned slowly, and when I set my eyes just right I could follow an individual blade, round and round.  This was happiness.  I could stay here forever.  Thirteen minutes to go.  Or was it twelve now?

My eyes closed, but I did not sleep.  Instead I glimpsed my thoughts, far adrift in the inky black.  I didn’t want them back yet.

In the minutes that remained I could have lived an entire life.  If time is a river—if its pace is fluid—these remaining minutes were a quiet cove cut out from the bank; a place of tranquility and joyous stagnation.  I felt every exhale, and with each subsequent inhalation, I was stronger.

When the timer finally went off, I opened my eyes with more than a little reluctance.  As I sat up and stretched my arms toward the ceiling, my husband rolled over and smiled.  The world was ready to crash in around me again, but that smile warmed and protected me a bit longer.

“That was nice.” He said.

I nodded in agreement.  “Yeah.  Maybe do it again tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”

Of course in the end the point is the escape—if only for a few minutes—from real life.  It doesn’t have to be seventeen minutes of idleness.  It could be fourteen, or twenty three, or however long it takes to read an awesome blog post like this one (shameless plug, I know).  But if you liked this post and feel a little more relaxed, maybe consider subscribing with this form:

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Barring that, even two minutes to be still, quiet, and really present in the moment can do wonders for relieving stress.

As usual, I’d love to know your thoughts.  Do you take time every day to be still, meditate, or pray?  What are other ways you deal with stress and fortify yourself against the pressures of a hectic life?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you as always for reading,

Gregory

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updownflight - May 22, 2017

That was very beautiful, gregoryjosephs. I think this is my very favorite post on the word “adrift” today, and I’ll tell you why. About 19 years ago my husband and I came up with the term “minute” to describe the five minutes or so after the alarm went off when we would just hug each other and kiss. Our whole focus would be on each other. Then we’d drag our butts our of bed and the day would start. We, like you, looked forward to those minutes. They are a mandatory part of our day, and really the most significant part. I agree that it is a type of mindfulness.

When I went on disability I was very unwell for a while, but then things improved a bit. I would set my alarm clock for about 6:45 am each morning, and when it went off I would get up and make breakfast. Not just for me, but for my hubby and my pet bird, Lima. Prior to these times we never ate breakfast at home. We rather showered as quickly as possible, threw on clothes and grabbed something en route to the hectic work day. So this new breakfast tradition became very significant to us. When the coffee was ready and the cereal was on the table I’d yell “Boys!” Then hubby and Lima the bird came down. We’d eat in silence. Lima had his dish, but inevitably started to steal cereal from my husbands.

After breakfast we went upstairs and had what was now a very extended “minute”. It then became known as “mazlit”, which in Czech (my hubby is Czech), means cuddle. The cuddle time is now a whopping one hour long. I must admit we fall asleep sometimes during this mazlit, but we still cuddle close. Lima used to join us, too. Unfortunately Lima passed away about 3.5 months ago, but hubby and I still mazlit. It is a crucial part of our marriage. One I plan to keep forever.

Reply
    Gregory Josephs - May 22, 2017

    I think you just made my day! Thank you!

    Your mazlit is a beautiful daily tradition, and yes, I hope you never, ever stop. Thank you for sharing this experience. Sorry to hear about Lima, but wow, what a cool bird!

    Thank you so much for reading. I always look forward to your posts.

    Reply
      updownflight - May 22, 2017

      Thank you, Gregory Josephs! That makes me happy that I may have made your day. Your post reminded me how wonderful the tradition is and how that has kept my marriage strong. Do you know what? Today is my 19th anniversary.

      Reply
        Gregory Josephs - May 22, 2017

        Congratulations! I love hearing things like that! 19 years, wow. My husband and I have been together seven and married almost three. In a world where so many couples don’t make it, I’m always inspired by the enduring success stories.

        I’m glad to know a few minutes together without distraction can go such a long way!

        Reply
          updownflight - May 22, 2017

          It definitely can go a long way! Congratulations to you and your husband for being together for almost 10 years.

          Reply
Get in My Head - May 22, 2017

That was beautiful.. and restful to read. A perfect collection of peaceful imagery in the middle of my hectic day. Sometimes right before my husband is about to walk out the door, I pull him back into bed for a cuddle, just to be with him in that moment. Those are always my favorite moments. Now, thanks to your post, I really miss him! He will get home in one and a half hours… I am counting the seconds.. 😉

As always, thanks for sharing.

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    Gregory Josephs - May 22, 2017

    As always, thanks for reading , and for your always-lovely comments. Seventeen minutes can be an eternity, but an hour and a half doesn’t have to be! 😉

    Have an awesome rest of your day, and relax when you can. Things won’t always be so hectic!

    Reply
A.S. Akkalon - May 22, 2017

What a beautiful idea and a beautiful post. It’s too easy to spend all your time running around and never just stop and breathe. This is a great reminder of the value of stopping to breathe.

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    Gregory Josephs - May 22, 2017

    Thank you! I need to find time to do it more. Days that I get to do this, I really do feel better.

    Reply
A.S. Akkalon - May 22, 2017

And thanks for the link! 🙂

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    Gregory Josephs - May 22, 2017

    Anytime. I’m happy you’re a part of my writing community, and I really liked that post! Humor is tough for me, but you do it quite well.

    Reply
      A.S. Akkalon - May 22, 2017

      Thank you! I don’t consider myself a funny person, but when I started blogging I realised I didn’t actually have anything interesting to say, so it was humour or bore my reader to death. 🙂

      Reply
charmedchaos12 - May 22, 2017

Really Lovely.

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Aimer Boyz - May 22, 2017

I’m totally impressed that you can carve out a zen moment in your day. I’d be lying there thinking of everything I had to do once the timer when off 🙂

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    Gregory Josephs - May 22, 2017

    Haha, thanks. Well, I don’t always succeed in keeping my head clear, and there are definitely days I don’t even come close to having these quiet moments in the middle of the day.

    Today for instance I was running around like a madman the entire last hour I was home. I’ll do better tomorrow. 😉

    Reply
itsmyhusbandandme - May 24, 2017

Sometimes it’s nice to be horizontal with a husband and NOTHING happens.
JP

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authensible1357 - May 28, 2017

This was a great read! I enjoyed reading about your day. It definitely sounds hectic! I think it’s great that the two of you take those quiet moments to bring that stillness and calm to your day.

I’ve recently had a renewed interest in meditation. For years, I’ve collected meditation CDs, attended classes but never really been serious about it. Maybe it’s my worsening sleep problems or maybe it’s just the right time and I’m in the right place in my life so to speak. I’m not sure.

But I’m actually taking time to do this. I favor visualuzations and affirmations and I’ve been doing those everyday, before bed or on my way to work. I’m absolutely loving it.

Great post! Keep on writing.

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    Gregory Josephs - May 29, 2017

    Thank you! I’m glad you’re going deeper into meditation; I’d like to learn more about it myself because even my little home-grown version has a great positive impact on my day to day.

    Finding time and getting serious about it will probably be a challenge for me as well, but if I can better navigate my life as a result, it’ll be well worth it. I’d ask if you agree, but I bet I already know the answer!

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it.

    Reply
Horseshoes in the Dark | Gregory Josephs - May 30, 2017

[…] project as I wait for my manuscript to come back from the editor and prepare to self-publish.  As I’ve mentioned, I occupy almost every spare moment with platform building and blogging and all the business-y […]

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It’s Okay to Exist Without an Objective | Gregory Josephs - October 5, 2017

[…] The moment was small, but powerful. When had it become fashionable to work constantly? When had I forgotten to slow down—something I write about constantly—and driven myself to this point? How had I neglected even my simplest personal pleasures—my moments of quiet? Where was my eternity in seventeen minutes? […]

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