Well, maybe it’s not just American; maybe it’s everywhere. The myth is one that I feel strongly as a mother, but which I have started seeing in children and men too. It’s the myth of Free Time.

Maybe you’ve heard of it. Free Time is when we’re supposed to do the things we enjoy, the hobbies we set aside until the kids are in bed, the people who we’re going to call/email/visit. Free Time is that rapidly disappearing commodity in a culture obsessed with productivity and the Next Big Thing.

Free Time is the time I spend sleeping instead of reading or phoning or writing. Free Time is the luxury I’ll have “someday,” when some imaginary set of criteria are met. The problem is, that set of criteria doesn’t seem to be realistic. It sure won’t be when I’m retired, judging by those retired folks I know. One couple is busier than I am! And that’s true of quite a few of those retired folks in our parish; they’re the ones who “have the time” to serve on the committees and plan events. Except, in “having the time,” they’re giving up their time, so they don’t have any Free Time either!

Maybe it’s a problem of semantics. Maybe what we really need is a shift in how we think about things. Instead of waiting until I have some Free Time, maybe I should set a priority and get it done NOW. Rather than waste precious time complaining and griping and jawing, perhaps I could do some of the planning and organizing and cleaning that doesn’t ever seem to get done, due to the elusive nature of Free Time.

We’re all busy. I think there are studies to prove that we’re busier than we’ve ever been. (But I didn’t have the Free Time to find out…) So this Lent, maybe I can meet this problem head-on. I’m going to look at our Free Time, small though it may be, and give some of it to God. It always seems that when I give something to God, in His mercy, He gives me back so much more.