Taking Time // Giving Time

The sweet, salty, smokey flavor of the sausage with a hint of maple

The soft, smooth eggs with a jammy yolk

The crunch and warmth of fresh toast spread with rich butter and tangy, bright raspberry preserves

This is my breakfast of choice – a simple eight minutes by the stove, first cooking the sausage in my favorite, well-loved pan. I transfer them to a plate, then swirl butter into the skillet, watching as it bubbles and froths. I crack in two eggs, and enjoy the sizzle and pop as the whites transform from clear and gel-like to transparent and soft. As the eggs cook, I drop two pieces of bread into the oven set to broil. I give it about two minutes, then with a flick of the wrist, flip the eggs over to cook the other side and pull the toast before it burns. I turn off the burner and let the heat continue to cook the eggs through – though I love a nice soft, runny yolk.

I assemble the toast – one piece of bread with butter, and the other with both butter and raspberry preserves. One piece is for dipping in the yolk, the other is for ending my meal with something sweet.

I have the day off today, and this is exactly the breakfast I’m sitting down with, even as I’m writing. But lately, this hasn’t been the norm. I’ve recently begun a new job as a manager at a local coffee shop. Call time is 4:30 AM.

Even though it only takes ten minutes (including washing the pan) for this wonderful, favorite meal of mine, it’s just not a realistic expectation. Instead, I’ve opted for yogurt and granola, which I most often eat standing at the kitchen counter while reviewing my schedule for the day as the pre-dawn darkness presses in from the windows. I’m not present to what I’m eating, and I wish I could be more aware.

What does it mean to take time to do something? Often, we’re asked to commit ourselves to taking time to fulfill obligations, and people expect us to do so, especially in our work lives. In some ways, this form of taking time has become highly transactional: we expect results, especially when there is an exchange of money for hourly work.

We can also take time for ourselves, time to slow down, enjoy a bubble bath, take a long drive, or go on vacation. Though that begs the question, “from whom are we taking the time?” Are we taking it from our work? From our families or relationships?

But when we give time toward something, this feels much more generous. We can give time to our work place, being more invested in the work we love (or don’t love, in which case, we’re still dedicated to being the best we can be). We can give time to our loved ones, creating meaningful moments and memories to be cherished through the years. But we can also give time to ourselves, and this feels like one of the most generous acts I could conceive.

I’ve been told many times that I’m too hard on myself. I make a lot of mistakes, and I have high expectations for myself, my work life, and my personal life. When I don’t meet my goals, or other peoples’ goals, I often feel that I have failed.

But I need to give myself time. Time to learn new things. Time to get my feet settled in a new place. Time to adjust to new expectations and new ways of being.

And though call will still be 4:30 AM tomorrow, and though I know I won’t be making my breakfast of choice, I hope to give myself the time to be more present to that yogurt and granola. To sit at the table, put away the cell phone, and just be.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll discover a new favorite breakfast in the hazy pre-dawn light.

— Christy

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