How to Live in the Era of Sprint or A Violation of Time

For work I am often out of town three nights at a time. I am staying in whatever hotel can give me the most reward points, I have plenty of email to catch up on in the evening hours, and I often do dinner or drinks with colleagues. No time for much of anything else. For those three days I’m on a work sprint. Then I return home to my wife and 9 month old. I’m exhausted mentally and physically (flying American Airlines and eating Cinnabon twice in three days is worse for your body than smoking). Taryn and I have a lot to catch up on but also have to manage life’s details. Did you order more baby formula online? Get a baby sitter for next Saturday? Did you notice that our garage door doesn’t work, our windows are leaking, and the neighborhood cat chewed through your bike tires? Another sprint.

I even schedule my social life in sprints. This week I have scheduled time with five different friends on five different days. Each is scheduled for 60 minutes. I have not seen these people in over a month but I think we are going to connect in the same amount of time it takes to tell the story of a whole week in the life the Kardashains? Silly.

One can imagine that hundreds of years ago the question “how long will it take to get to the beach?” was one about how far your two feet could take you. Or maybe they measured things in buffalo lengths. I don’t know. But now it comes with options and all of those options are about speed. How long will it take to get to the beach? Depends – are you taking your bike? Bus? Car? In the last 100 years vehicles were created that could move us faster and more efficiently than our feet or a couple of ponies could ever do. At one point progress was about Lindbergh flying over the Atlantic or simply stepping foot on the moon. Now it is about how fast we can do that.

We are in an era of sprint. Our work, our play, our intimacy, our phone calls, trips, spiritual rhythms, diets, marriages, are all done as periods of sprint. Some people believe this is the inevitable impact of technology. Others believe it is the devil. The conversation is bipolar. Move to Asheville, NC and have a farm and just chiiiiiiiill. Or get used to this pace because time is all we have! And time is money! Read The Four Hour Work Week!

It’s both. We are people living in time, with limited amounts of it. And we must live it well.

Author and Pastor Eugene Peterson says

“We are embedded in time, but time is also embedded in us. Creation is called into being, not haphazardly and not in a cacophony of noise but rhythmically.”

We have seconds, minutes, and hours. We have days, weeks, and seasons. Does our era of sprint ignore this? Should I just move to the Sonoma Coast, take daily naps, and drink Hirch Vineyard’s Pinot Noir each night? Peterson again,

Time is the medium in which we do all our living. When time is desecrated, life is desecrated. The most conspicuous evidences of this desecration are hurry and procrastination. Hurry turns away from the gift of time in a compulsive grasping for abstractions that it can possess and control. Procrastination is distracted from the gift of time in a lazy inattentiveness to the life of obedience and adoration by which we enter the “fullness of time.” Whether by a hurried grasping or by a procrastinating inattention, time is violated.

In an Era of Sprint we must remember that efficiency often withdraws presence. But we must not respond by retreating into laziness or isolation thinking that will enrich us. Time is a gift. Gifts are not managed, controlled, or made efficient. Gifts are received.

Each day is an opportunity to receive and participate in the rhythms given to us by our Creator. It is as we listen to these rhythms that we find the pace for our own life. So today, how will we receive our time? I’m not sure how I will receive it, but I better do it quick!!


2 Comments on "How to Live in the Era of Sprint or A Violation of Time"

  1. shon says:

    the 40 hour work week is gross. the idea that work happens at the same time in the same way every day forever is downright idiotic. the rhythms you talk about are very important, but i am not sure if we will be able to find that rhythm so long as we see that base 40 hours as belonging to “work.”

    part of the problem is that for many of us our work and our lives are disconnected. we strive to make work relate to our lives, and in SV there have been great advances in tricking people into thinking that their work is their lives, but as long as work happens out there and all other parts of our lives happen over here we will find that discord.

    the saying “time is money” is gross because it leads to those 60 minutes of social time scenarios. i cannot profit from social experiences financially and so i have to limit social time. my hope is that we will start to let go of the time-as-money concept and instead embrace the gifts that we can give and receive. if we can do that, if we can let go of time as being our master, then we will find so much more of it. before our sprint lifestyle there were people who did not live and die by a clock. as a result they had much more time to socialize, to create, to enjoy, and to rest. we don’t want to believe that our modern life is worse than any that came before us, but the things that we have constructed, including our modern understanding of time, rule over us without regard for our health.

    tl;dr i once wore my watch with pride, but now i wear it with shame.

  2. Jarrod says:

    Shon Fiscl – This comment is another reminder for why I love you. I agree.

    The work+life combo is not just SV. Christians do it too by over emphasizing the joy found in “vocation.” Scripture is pretty clear that work will be hard and you will feel futility. AND God made us to do it and experience it’s fruit. Over emphasizing any side of the equation is a manipulative effort. Work is both toil and joy – utility and gift.