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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra
I just don't have time...
Giving time is the best gift we can give, because our time is our life; it is also the best gift we can receive, because the giver knows he or she could not get it back. However, it usually costs us more to give time than to give material gifts. An example: "my grandson calls me asking me to accompany him to his soccer game and I tell him once again that I don't have time, but in exchange I will give him a regulation ball".
One of the most repeated comments today is "I don't have time", especially in response to a request for a favor. This tends to happen more often to older and retired people, who, in principle, have more free time. How can we explain this paradox?
J. Browne considers that the subjective sense of time (psychological or anthropological time) changes with age. In childhood, time passes more slowly, because almost everything is new and an opportunity to learn; on the other hand, as we grow older, everything becomes familiar to us, so that we tend to lose our eagerness to learn. Then time speeds up and slips away from us.
For Octavio Paz "time is not outside of us, nor is it something that passes in front of our eyes like the hands of the clock. Time is us, and it is not the years that pass, but we who pass".
There are cases in which the feeling of not having time, of not getting to everything, as in previous ages, is overwhelming and obsessive. This disorder is known as "the syndrome of lack of time".
Some people always have time for themselves, but hardly ever for others. They consider that accompanying others is a waste of time.
Gustav Thibon clarifies that in today's society there is an enclosure of individuals and a massive indifference towards others. He adds that there is a process of social erosion that Paul Valéry called "the multiplication of solos".
This attitude is reinforced when the "alone" lacks empathy. The non-empath remains immersed in his own reality staff, unaware of the feelings and problems of others. It also increases in narcissistic people. The narcissist is recognized by the desire to be admired. He worries only about himself. His egocentrism and lack of empathy incapacitate him to see other "egos" and to share his time with them.
Lowen argues that narcissists do not love themselves: "These are people who cannot accept their true personality and instead construct a permanent mask that hides their lack of emotional sensitivity. They are more concerned with their appearance than with their feelings" (Narcissism: The Disease of Our Time, 2000).
Another obstacle to discovering that my time is "our time" is haste and haste, which has become a way of life ("now I can't attend to you either, I'm in a hurry"). But this is not exclusive to the agitation and acceleration of the present age, as is attested by a 1651 testimony written by Baltasar Gracián:
"Do not live in a hurry. To know how to distribute things is to know how to enjoy them. Many have too much life and no more happiness; they would like to devour in one day what they will hardly be able to digest in a lifetime. They live ahead in happiness, they eat up the years to come and, as they go in such a hurry, they end up with everything.
The use of new technologies was, in principle, a way to save time, but the abuse of them (email, whatsapp and mobile, above all) absorbed almost all the free time of many users of all ages.
Fortunately there are resources against the imperative of haste, which stop the tempo and tame it, such as, for example, the visit to a museum, a walk in the countryside, fishing, ritual, cooking a dish over low heat ....
Slowness is not always a limitation or a defect. In the society of acceleration and hyperactivity, we need to slow down the pace of our lives in order to reflect, to contemplate, to decide, to work not more, but better. This entails gaining patience, which is the virtue that allows us to bear the inevitable inconvenience caused by goods that take time to arrive. If we were to lose our sense of patience, we would not be able to adapt to the time of others. To do so without being noticed is fine charity.