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  • Writer's pictureAstrid Van Gramberen

Good things make time

Ha. Good things and time. They have been on my mind lately!

We are leaving Belgium again to go to New Zealand, in about two weeks from now. I definitely, definitely feel that as a time pressure thing, in the back of my mind (but actually, most of the time: in the middle of my mind!).


Oh, god, time, it's a mindf*ck sometimes, isn't it?

Time can feel magical and lasting, open for possibilities, and time can feel restrictive and short. I try to think about how I can stay in that first time zone, because that is the zone in which I find myself enjoying things, being really present, making memories that charge me up later on. It's also the zone where you can take good decisions, and from good decisions, good things follow! Time makes good things, and good things make time, I would say. They create the feeling of having time. Like a cosy two hours train ride home, or getting lost in the forest during a walk. Suddenly there is time!

'Er is altijd tijd,' staat er op ons keukenraam in Nieuw-Zeeland. Daar, aan de andere kant van de wereld, vond ik mijn natuurlijke ritme terug, dat voelt anders dan het Belgische ritme. Na twee maanden België ben ik dat gevoel van 'tijd hebben' een beetje kwijtgeraakt. Belgen plannen meer, agenda's worden hier vrij vol gepland. De laatste twee weken voel ik ook de tijdsdruk van het afscheid - dingen die ik wil(de) doen, maar niet meer kan doen, omdat er niet genoeg tijd meer is.

'There is always time,' is - surprise - of course not always true... But! In many situations, looking from this perspective does take some pressure off. I remember the first weeks (weeks? let's say months, ha!) with Maurice. I was exhausted and sometimes that led to a feeling of desperation. In those moments, I thought - I will sleep again, I will feel rested again, it will come back. 'There is always time.' That calmed me down again, I could surrender more to the current situation. And it works for other things as well! Like, wondering when you will have a moment to yourself, or with your partner, with your friends, ... In the midst of chaos and despair - you could try to think: there will be time, it will come. You might not have it at that precise moment, but who knows what is around the corner? Allowing yourself to think like that, giving yourself a hopeful perspective, can be so helpful, I think!

In die mindset wordt het makkelijker om realistisch te plannen of (last minute) plannen af te zeggen. Want, als er genoeg tijd is, waarom zou je dat toffe plan niet durven uit te stellen of die afspraak niet durven afzeggen? Je spreekt gewoon een andere keer af. Sweet as. No worries. Wie weet geniet je er ook meer van, en kan je beter luisteren naar wat er verteld wordt?

It's a precious balance, though! For me and Brendan, it feels like our relationship represents that balance. He inspires me to trust upon time, and allow myself to find my natural rhythm (which is different for everybody of course). To take a day off, to cancel something when it all becomes too much. To plan 'non-plan-days'. I love him for that. On the other hand, I'm the one who (once in a while) makes things happen. Like the other day, when everyone of my family went swimming together to celebrate Maurice's upcoming birthday. I made his cake at 10pm. That was AWESOME. Good things cake time, I would say.

In mijn job aan de universiteit van Leuven werd ik soms geconfronteerd met hoe goèd Belgen zijn in plannen, ideeën hebben, plannen maken, dingen analyseren en verbeterpunten identificeren, ... Waar we soms tekort schoten was een realistisch perspectief op de uitvoering van het plan... Onvoorziene situaties zijn èigen aan de meeste situaties! Implementatie van een nieuw project vraagt tijd. Mensen zijn geen computers (wat een cliché, sorry!), iets dat we toch soms vergeten. We voelen ons zo goed thuis in de rationele wereld. Wat ons typisch 'mens' maakt, gebeurt ook op momenten die niet te plannen zijn. Op momenten waarin er net ruimte is, overgave, om jezelf te voelen, iemand anders aan te voelen, of de natuur om je heen, je lichaam te voelen, en vooral: vrijheid te voelen. Misschien hebben we hier allemaal wel tevéél gestudeerd, zijn we teveel in een rationele, maakbare werkelijkheid terecht gekomen. Ik denk, dus ik ben, maar wat dan met de rest?

Creating space, taking time. It could be very small. In our household I regularly eat my breakfast in our bedroom. By myself, thirty minutes or more. It gives me the feeling of space, which creates the feeling of having time. Going for a walk at the end of the day is another classic. Together, fifteen minutes or more. Winding down and leaving the rhythm of your day behind to start your evening. Taking time to call a friend, or leave a voice message to your sister, sharing funny things ('Your daughter did this thing yesterday, and it cracked me up...'). Playing with your kid, ten minutes or more. Cooking, enjoying making something for yourself and your family. Or playing a (short, when you're a parent) boardgame together.

I still remember Brendan mentioning this to me for the first time: 'Good things take time eh.' So simple, and so true. I think it was about a random sandwich that we were making for lunch, haha.

How do you try to get in the right time zone? Do you plan too much or can you learn to plan differently?

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