I don’t have enough time. Every day begins and ends with that feeling, from which there is never the escape afforded by completing what you needed to do.
We live on a planet in peril – or so we are told. In reality, it is not the planet, but the motley crowd of humans that mill about on it that is at risk of catastrophe.
That would mean us. Me. You. We know we should do things differently, but there is just no more time in the day.
I write this from the Dubliner Pub in Washington, DC, sitting next to the stage where musician Brian Gaffney has been regaling the crowd with Irish tunes, including my favorite song, “Only Our Rivers,” that he played for me as I sat down (“for my Canadian friend”).
Having spent several days here during Hurricane Sandy, writing up my own storm, he and the staff remember me. It has become my home in DC, to which I returned in the late evenings on this next trip after days of meetings about sustainability and climate change. I am here to help save the planet – or the humans on it – even though I don’t have the time.
The marking accumulates, the deadlines approach, and Christmas looms like some unfortunate malevolence rather than the celebration it should be – because I don’t have the time.
As I met people from across the United States (and too few from Canada), I was encouraged by the wisdom and sincerity of their ideas – and heartened by the warmth with which my own ideas were greeted. And yet, every day, there was not enough time to do what we felt should be done.
Each session, first at the North American Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production and then at the annual UNEP RONA Major Stakeholder and Civil Society Consultation, ended with a Buddhist chime, not with our decision that enough had been said. We did not have enough time.
It is the mantra of our culture, both individual and collective. We know what needs to be done, and even how, but run out of time to do it. We prioritize, multi-task, work longer hours, and there is still not enough time to do what we know we should be doing.
It would be so easy to surrender, to give up, to shorten the list to what can be accomplished, to prioritize things in a way that the day ends with leisure and not with work undone.
And yet, if that were the case, I would not be here, writing this blog at the end of a week where the other sound I heard, repeatedly, was the sound of opening doors. So many new people, shared interests, opportunities to do important work for which I have no time.
But I am going to try, anyway.