Today I am choosing to have an unscheduled day. This is a luxury when you get to spend the day without your calendar reminding you that you have a ZOOM call at the top of the hour. It’s a day when you don’t measure time by the clock. A day without a list of tasks you need to do before your workday ends.

Nature doesn’t experience time this way. In Nature, time is more fluid. There are beginnings and endings, but they look more like cycles. Seasons are designed as cycles, tides cycle twice a day, and sunrises and sunsets are cycles. None of these examples happen on a manmade calendar. I noticed that spring came late to Minnesota this year as I didn’t match the date on the calendar that was marked as the first day of spring.

What does living a life that is constantly scheduled do to us?

If we are part of nature, we also have this capacity to experience time differently. And yet, we put watches on our wrists and check our cell phones to measure the progress of our days. The invention of the clock created a constructed framework of time that we are still measuring ourselves against.

Today I experienced an intentional unscheduled day. I woke when I awoke – not when the alarm on my clock told me it was time to wake up. I wrote when I was drawn to writing. I hiked when I was attracted to walking in the woods. I had lunch when my body was hungry. All these activities were experienced, they just didn’t follow a schedule that was preplanned and measured in 60-minute segments.

The benefits of an unscheduled day

What have I learned through this experience? I learned that I don’t carry stress when I have an unscheduled day. I also learned that I could do purposeful and meaningful work without a schedule. I learned that I could enjoy my day and live in the moment. I learned that I don’t carry expectations of what the day should be like. I also don’t have to experience surprise, joy, or disappointment when these expectations are met or unmet. The result was that I felt more in harmony with the nature around me.

These days I am experimenting with challenging deep background assumptions that have shaped my daily life. This experiment of an unscheduled is an example of this reflective practice. I have been taught not to be late, which requires me to constantly look at what time it is, or how much time will it take to get to my appointment. It runs in the background of my work life. I need to finish the topics we are discussing in the allotted time on my calendar, and in time to be present for my next appointment.

I focus on the clock to see when I need to eat lunch or dinner. I look at the calendar to see if I have enough time to exercise before my first meeting of the day. The deep background assumption is that the second hand going around in a circle on my watch is a reasonable way to measure the progress of my life throughout the day.

How is this attachment to the man-made construction of time influencing us and our perceptions? Does this “form” still serve a function?