Picture a world without the constant ticking of the clock or the relentless pressure of deadlines – a place where time isn’t sliced into minutes, hours, or appointments. Where waking up to an alarm for the 7:12 am bus is unheard of.
This world existed before our lives became measured and segmented by time, as we know it today. Earlier this year, my family and I experienced a remarkable two weeks on a remote island in the Solomon Islands, where I discovered the beauty of “Solomon time.”
In the Solomon Islands, especially in remote villages, time isn’t dictated by schedules, meetings, or clocks. People live in harmony with nature, rising with the sunrise and resting when they feel tired. They walk slowly, laugh freely, and embrace a more relaxed approach to life.
Adjusting to “Solomon time” was a delightful challenge. Without our usual gadgets or internet access, we stowed away our watches and unplugged from notifications. Plans weren’t confined to specific hours; instead, they unfolded naturally, fostering a slower pace of life. We slept more, paid attention to the sun, sea, and stars, and felt remarkably human.
As challenging as it can be to maintain a space-filled schedule in a society like Australia, governed by mechanical time, there is something we can all take away from the attitudes of islander life.
THE UNNATURAL PACE OF MECHANICAL TIME
In our bustling Western society, we’ve grown accustomed to organising our lives around a strict schedule, forgetting that our modern perception of time is relatively new.
The mechanical clock wasn’t invented until 1510, and it wasn’t until the introduction of the incandescent bulb in 1870, that humans began to rely on ‘time’ as an artificial construct. By extending our waking hours beyond natural day-night cycles, we became more dependent on human-made constructs of time, losing touch with the ebb and flow of the seasons.
Joan Chittister, in her book “The Gift Of Years,” laments the loss of mystery that follows our regimented view of time. “We live lives that are so precisely timed now,” she says. “Before people owned watches, dawn and dark were enough of a frame to live by. “I’ll come tomorrow” meant I will be there when I get there tomorrow. Now, “I’ll come tomorrow” only means when, precisely: by the minute, to the moment. No mystery there. Just expectation.”
There’s something refreshing and almost spiritual about slowing down and wasting time. Living by the clock, we forget to pay attention to the stars, losing perspective on what truly matters. We may achieve more activity but speed past the moments needed to enjoy laughter, relationships, and spontaneity.
MAKING SPACE THIS JANUARY
Back in Australia, I’ve returned to mechanical time, with my schedule once again segmented into half-hour increments. However, I’ve retained my yearning for a bit of “Solomon time” and capture small moments when I can.
This Christmas and holiday season, as many of us have an opportunity for a bit more space away from work and hurried schedules, my encouragement to you is to take time to unwind and experience a slower pace of life, unhurried by the clock.
If you need guidance, here are 25 out-of-the-box suggestions to help you make space for a slower pace of life over Summer. Can you use this as an opportunity to put aside the clock, take a breath, and recapture a natural rhythm of life to enjoy some “Solomon time”?
Don’t wear a watch for a week
Put aside a day without any plans
Get lost in a book
Lie in the sunshine and have a nap
Spend time breathing slowly and deeply
Say “yes” to the next request your children make
Take a warm bath
Deliberately ‘waste time’ with people you care about
Walk slowly or even aimlessly
Take a day trip to a nearby town you’ve never visited
Sing out loud in the shower
Pat a dog
Do something childish, like a summersault, or rolling down a hill, or enjoying a Tim Tam slam with warm milk
Write a letter to a friend or family member
Bake something tasty and eat it warm
Listen to an album from start to finish with your eyes closed
Write down three things you are grateful for
Spend an entire day without checking your phone
Take a scenic drive with no destination in mind
Sit on a beach with a cup of tea or coffee
Enjoy deliberate silence, staring at a candle, or a sunrise, or vista
Attend a local farmers’ market and eat something interesting
Watch a classic movie with a bunch of friends
Relax in a hammock
Walk around your neighbourhood and notice something new
Thank you for being part of the Spacemakers journey in 2023 – make space and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year break!