Time: Is it of the Essence?

What is up with the cliche “Time is of the Essence?” As in, “when it comes to _______________, time is of the essence.” This implies that time is an important factor in the subject at hand, right?

According to Oxford Languages, essence means a few different things:

  1. “The intrinsic nature of something,” When I have too little time, Anxiety challenges me to outrun time. My essence is rushed and harried.
  2. “A property of something without which it would not exist,” When I have too much time, Anxiety rears its ugly head and causes me to spend my time stressing. So much that my essence is of fear and avoidance. OR
  3. “An extract or concentrate derived from a plant used for flavoring.” Anxiety sneaks in and flavors time with its essence: shitty and bossy.

None of the above sounds beautiful.

Am I unique in that?

I always think of essence as a beautiful thing that makes us unique, sets us apart from others.

Time is a fickle thing. Something that we either have too much of:

“I can’t wait until vacation.” Or

“I can’t wait until we can talk.”

Or too little of:

“I can’t meet that deadline, no way.” Or

“I never have the time for that conversation.”

Depending on the situation. Or does it? Perhaps it depends on OUR feelings toward a situation.

One morning, I roll over and the room is still dark. Pitch dark. Not that much light gets in through the blinds anyway, but I feel hopeful as I check my watch, just to be sure. Then I remember it is Saturday. A Saturday with nary a single plan on my social docket. So rare. Who cares what time it is? Go back to sleep. So I do. Time’s essence is gloriousness at its finest.

The next time I awake, I feel refreshed and don’t care what time the clock reads or if the sun is up yet. I get up. 6:30 am. I head downstairs to feed the dog, brew my coffee, and launch my morning meditation routine, the long version where I get to play with a few more of my favorite things. Yay!

With the dog fed and having ‘watered’ the grass outside, he is a happy and satiated pup in all of the important ways. I come back inside to the most fantastic scent of fresh coffee and head over to my coffee station to mix master up a cup. Fill 3/4 of the way full, add sweet cream and 2% milk to the handheld silver frother, froth and pour, then top off with another measure of heat. Sprinkle with Vietnamese cinnamon. Wow. The first sip of coffee is always something special. And so is settling into my spot dedicated to meditation and reflection. The spot where I practice gratitude, refresh my energy with the power of stones, write about gratitude, practice intentional breathing, and consult my hippy Oracle cards to ascertain what area of focus is most pressing for that particular day. I am feeling pretty satiated myself.

This particular day, I launch my routine. Writing always comes first. I begin by making a list of what I needed to accomplish for the day and…OMG…what is this feeling? Panic. Panic? Why? Do I run first? Or from 9-10. When should I run my errands? Let me check the weather to see what time will be the warmest, so I can read my book out on the deck at that time. should I take my shower right after I run? OMG. Calm the fuck down. Do you see your list of bullshit for today? Relax. It will come together. Fucking fantasia comes to a screeching halt. Anxiety screeches, “I have arrived.”

I can’t shake the panic, Anxiety feeds the need to make the very most of my free day. To MAXIMIZE. Just sit in this glory. Stop ruining it, I tell myself to no avail. I even write the words, as I truly believe in the power of manifestation. But Anxiety is Ghangis Khan like: bulky, bullyish, unkind, and unafraid. Anxiety laughs at my efforts to dismiss her.

So I accept it. I tell Anxiety, that bitch, that I have room for her in my day. She taunts my efforts to connect with her. So I go big and deconstruct her and her essence. And this is what I learned: Anxiety’s “intrinsic nature” is to pressure me to do all of the things because my biggest fear is having time to listen to my mind. Anxiety would not exist if I did not have a full day of nothingness ahead of me, meaning that I have to listen to my mind’s ramblings of atrocities, desires, dreams, failures, pressures. I prefer to have a planned day and be on autopilot with business needing attending. Anxiety’s essence is that of pushing an ample helping of bullshit busyness on me.

Awareness is powerful antagonist for Anxiety, causing her to slink back, just a step or two. And then I hear a buzz, my phone. I check the text. It is a group text amongst some high school friends. One of the out-of-towners is in town and wondering who can meet her for dinner tonight. ME! I respond immediately and Anxiety creeps back even further. These plans mean balance. Free time with a sprinkle of plans. That’s my best flavor of jam, the yummy essence of time.

But how do I get myself to be ok with lots of free time and enjoy it? I look forward to it. I crave it. Some weekends end and I regret not carving out enough time for it. But when I face it, try to embrace it, Anxiety swoops in and ruins it. Can you relate?

Fast forward a few days to Wednesday. SAT day. My job is to proctor with no phone or computer access for FOUR hours. Talk about free time to let the mind destroy you. Ironically, my proctor duty is to make sure the testing culture is fair and equal and to KEEP TIME. Four hours of watching the clock, time to do nothing but listen to my very own thoughts and fears. Anxiety wrings her hands in absolute delight.

Awareness’ sidekick is preparedness. I beat Anxiety to the punch and bring my notebook to write a poem. A sestina, in fact. One that requires me to follow a particular structure, a huge challenge to a non poem writer such as myself. What a great idea. And fun and productive and creative. And I can take breaks from my poem to proctor the test. And keep time. This is balance at its finest. Those test takers do not want me trolling them like a jilted lover stalking their exes’ insta feeds. No they do not. I will be doing them a favor by distracting myself with a poetry challenge.

The topic of the poem? Distractions. And why we (I) crave them, seek them, and embrace them in my life? Distractions as a form of defense against the essence of time? Yes, I see the irony.

So a sestina is 6 stanzas of 6 lines each (a sestet to those who love the poetry lexicon) where each line of the stanza ends with one of 6 meaningful words that repeat themselves in every stanza. Perhaps these words support the theme or promote the tone so the repetition of these 6 words is important. Don’t get too caught up in the details. I botched it anyway. Like a test taker who studied vigorously for the big exam, only to have Anxiety manipulatively extract the stored information just when they need it, I forgot that it was 6 actual words repeated, not a 6 line rhyme scheme.

Sestina. The brown words are repeated in each stanza. Not in mine though. Doesn’t this sound like a peaceful, desirable place to be? I, however, would fear my thoughts in that gentle spot.

There 3 final lines (a tercet) incorporate all 6 words into the finale. Writing this part is what made me realize the mistake that I had made. The distraction poem distracted me from remembering the actual structure. I fought (my opinion of) time with a light saber, keeping Anxiety at bay, like an (self) absorbed warrior.

Each line is written in iambic pentameter, as Shakespeare somehow wrote a million plays and over a hundred sonnets. Again, don’t think too hard on this. I fucked this part up too, intentionally this time. Iambic pentameter is too complicated and encompassing (I do have to proctor some), so I dropped the iambic part (unstressed, stressed pattern of syllables) but kept the pentameter part (10 syllables per line).

What I am saying is that I did it all wrong. Instead of beating myself up about it, or even redoing it, I renamed it a dorothina, instead of a sestina. The effect of repeating the rhyme scheme does not have the same powerful effect of repeating the actual words, but here is my poem that I wrote about distractions to avoid having to experience no distractions, leaving me alone with my thoughts:

Distractions. That’s what they are. Don’t doubt it.

Cooking meals for the family, go me.

Exploring on my scooter, never far.

Running, walking, hiking, biking, skating.

Eating, drinking, smoking, just to escape. 

Books, songs, blogs, bathing suits. They all pollute

The mind. Why does it play mean tricks on me?

What can’t I, in the peaceful quiet sit, 

And think of potential without rebuke?

Perhaps from my past still remains a scar…

How to heal sans metaphorical tape?

Meditating, writing, still escaping.

At least those are good clean fun, not the bar.

At least I don’t stray too dark, just like Snape.

At least I don’t drink like her, comparing.

Justifying it’s social, not just me.

It’s a party, celebration, legit.

Out and about, looking for someone cute.

Bumble, Match, Tinder, Hinge to find a date, 

despite the bore, not lowering the bar.

No adjusting my standards nor should he;

I’d rather spend splendid time on my scoot

Than time with someone who is not a fit.

Scooting, writing, hiding from the spiting. 

Skirting the change to clear my messy plate

No self reflecting, evaluating

No purging, clearing, finding the real me.

Just writing stories, busy with edits,

Making fun of others in a salute

To solitude, contradicting my fear

Of being away from others, alone.

I want action so take off in the car

Because the squawking mind I cannot take-

The self reflecting that leads to growing,

No matter how much I want to be.

I crave peace and I know where to find it,

Yet I hide and run as I search for fun

That takes my mind away and makes me numb.

I seek balance-time is of the essence.

Writing this poem was empowering. I enjoyed it. I know that I could redo it and put it in proper form, but I am not sure that I will. I am a work in progress, and just like the poem, I might not ever change. I like how it goes rogue, as I often do in my everyday life. I like how it is self reflective in an avoidance kind of way, like me. I like how it puts my vices right in front of me, encouraging me to befriend them and fight the essence of time, the thing that makes Anxiety pay me a visit, with reality. A peaceful and accepting reality whose essence is unique and beautiful.

2 thoughts on “Time: Is it of the Essence?

  1. Hi Dorothy! I definitely can relate. Also with the anxiety of knowing I should take more “free” time, use my paid leave at work, and “do things” — but then, what things? When? With who? Or with no one but me? It instills panic every time.


    1. What do you love to do? Do that. Or do nothing. Sometimes we need to rest.

      Who do you love?

      I always joke, “I asked Dorothy if she wants to go hiking, and she said ‘Yes!’”

      Then I go hiking:) Solo. It is amazing because i am doing what I love, and I have the most interesting conversations with Dorothy. I learn so much about her.

      I know the panic you feel. Trying small things and having success will give you confidence to try something a bit bigger.

      That has been my experience, anyway.


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