The Lost Art of Buying Time

“I’m late, I’m late!” Cried the frantic White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. He wasn’t the only one. I’m late! has become the tagline that snags my life as I scurry about searching for the right shoes, my keys and my common sense. It’s the Modern Woman’s fault. She’s my personal grim reaper, forewarning me of fates worse than death; forgetting my umbrella for instance, or typo’s in presentations. The Modern Woman haunts us with her unattainability; us mortals cannot be mother, career-girl and vixen all at once. And yet there’s only one thing stopping us from being superhuman, and that is time.

Many young women, fledglings in new jobs, are willing to put in the office hours over all else. They’ll show up bushy-tailed and bustling to their jobs, keen to do better than ‘doing well’. In the spare time they do have they’ll gladly go out with the girls, pals of student days just past. But these aren’t the grand three day weekenders they used to be, this is dinner in a bistro, the last train home. Hours sleeping count now.

Is all work and no play sustainable? Once you’ve finished up the frugal living of being freshly graduated, toil has translated into pay checks and it’s about time to have a good time! Except even that; restaurant reservations, sales shopping and nattering to mates becomes planned, pencilled in and thoroughly thought out, till you’re not sure you should have bothered. Assuming you do by some miracle manage to run your life to schedule, how can you be sure you are actually having fun?

Olympic leaps in technology allow us access to any information; transatlantic trips are at our fingertips. But we seem to be stuck in opposite-land, where no matter how much faster and more efficient the world becomes, we have less and less time. Thriving London recommends more and more till we are up to our eyes in offers. With new cocktail parlours springing up like weeds every week and holiday destinations piling up like household chores, who on earth has a minute to sit down and genuinely enjoy a single thing?!

And what about the ‘next step’? Security, foundations… when’s the right time to start keeping an eye out for ‘the one’, the father of your future children – if you’re so inclined? Do you carefully tally the hours of your courtship? If you do achieve couple utopia, do the diamond dance, start baking buns in the oven – well then how do parenting duties realistically fit in? If you succeed at the mummy-and-working-lady combo, how do you stop this from announcing itself in lines across your forehead?

Of all the luxury lifestyle products available today, the ultimate luxury is time.

Maybe that is why we’re so obsessed with classic pieces. We hope the timeless value of Chanel’s black dress will slip off on us when we slip into it. We sense the power of sporting an eternal solitaire diamond ring from Harry Winston’s that won’t suffer from wear. These things supersede us, their lifespan outweighs ours, they are potted, branded, boxed-up life elixir. It’s clever work on behalf of brands to sell us the everlasting. After all, if the Burberry trench I bought at 25 looks brand new, then surely I, at 40, can’t have aged either? Better yet are brands which make us forget about a daily lack of time and encourage us to think about time on a grander, life-long scale. The Patek watch slogan ‘you never own a Patek, you merely look after it for the next generation’ feels like a free pass to immortality. After all, if you’re part of an enduring family chronology, who cares for the abandoned laundry?! Still somehow, for me and many others out there, time-management is every season’s must-have.

The truth is, time-management can be learnt. You improve as you go along, using all those nifty iphone apps to your advantage and remote controlling the contents of your fridge. But is this really how you want to live? In many ways that Modern Woman, the one from before, with her tan and her alien punctuality, might not actually be the woman I want to be. On second thoughts, is it really a sacrifice to give up something stressful? Why do everything if we cannot then relish anything?

I’d sooner sit back and ponder. Which shall it be? Keep my job and hire nannies? Stay home with the babies and cook a la Nigella? Long-distance boyfriend and live-in best friend? Killer career but a prescribed yearly yoga retreat to unwind from the rat race?

There’s no need to bite off more than you can chew. Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your belly, and you might have a chance of living a life you really love. In short; be wiser than your years.

Original artwork by Iva Filkina

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