Time: A Year Gone By

We all have ‘the day Covid hit’ touchpoint. I have not written much since. Certainly, I have my thoughts but by the time I have time to capture them, other shiny issues attack my brain. ‘Time’ during Covid, and the abrupt changes to our work time and free time were as varied and polarized as politics. Since Covid, those more locked down than I experienced ‘Time’ in new ways. Reduced commute, work at home, absence of social gatherings, lack of racing plus more, drastically altered the schedules of many. Time was equated with isolation or at minimum, free time had to be filled differently. The result for many ranged from gaining a few covid pounds to frustration and various levels of lethargy or depression. GW bike experienced a customer who HAD to get a bike THAT day to overcome her desire to drink. Her AA meetings were cancelled, virtual did not offer the human touch she craved, and unscheduled time was bringing her trouble.

Me? Whose life centers too much around Gear West? Priorities and stresses shifted, but work and real people interactions increased. New ways of doing things demanded change, “how do we stay open yet responsive to staff and customer concerns?” We had to adjust to how our customers managed their new day. Examples: call pick-up was new to us but is here to stay. Increase in E-commerce strained our limited spaces. Bike and ski products, purchased by new customers learning how to use free time outside, became impossible to replenish. Gear West was busier than ever and demanded more time than past summers and winters. Guess work persists and grabs more time: Will demand for outdoor product let up? Will racing happen? Can we get our allotment of family and e-bikes? Should we plan GW run and tri events? Will investment in an expanded e-commerce platform be a smart move? And of course, economy concerns. Bike prices are rising; what will happen to the demand curve? Lots to do, ponder and manage without historical data. In short, my TIME this past year involved more customer interaction and more hours at the store, creating a totally different Covid experience.

In short, this past year presented stark differences in how many of us absorbed life. The predictability that bound friendships thru shared ‘time’ and experiences were stressed. The comradeship formed thru goal setting, as an example, the Women’s YWCA triathlon, left an emptiness in many who previously poured energy into building, supporting and/or participating in it. Interestingly, as virtual races took hold, events such as the American Birkebeiner or the Boulder Mtn Tour created a wellspring of energy inspiring individuals to carve out time to race in ways never experienced before.

A year later, I am determined to change up how I use ‘Time’. Free time is of huge value to me; giving it and receiving it is my ‘Love Language” (Read the book ). I never have enough of it and Covid’s business challenges gobbled up the free time I began to collect after my kids were launched. I think triathletes are one of the most obsessed Time Seekers ever. Perhaps the triathlon bug which propelled me into buying into a triathlon store and completing the Hawaii Ironman way back in the 80’s AND the subsequent dealing with type A goal-oriented racing customers exacerbated my anxiety over time. Us tri folks never have enough minutes in the day to train for three sports AND do the family and work thing well. Add ski training? Yikes! Life Balance discussions have been an active subject of debate among my women friends all thru my 30’s and 40’s. Entering my 60’s I certainly allot more time to linger over a morning frothy coffee and reading materials. Sleep arrives earlier after a full day. But the time in between? The dance card has been work-filled this past year.

Just what will a Covid anniversary year bring? One friend my age, Muffy Ritz (who seeks more crazy experiences than any woman I know), calls how we view time, the TR factor (Time Remaining) to do adventurous, growth-oriented things. As I watch random life aging consequences hit many of my friends, mental acuity and pain free joints are more precious than ever. It’s time to allow the younger folks (here at GW) to run their own races with what we have started. I am beginning that process. Hopefully, my wisdom and 40 years of TL (Time Learning) continues to add value, but I feel the need to claw back my Shop Time and redirect it to other projects. I have a 93 year old Dad in Chicago looking at a sliver of time. A Covid poodle puppy acquisition needs time for training. A Health Coach accreditation is waiting for my study. Riding across Mongolia on little mail ponies (if I get accepted) requires future training time. And figuring out how to make sense of all that is changing in our world needs quality reflection time. How to make a lasting positive difference in my TR is why I need time to think about time.

Jan Guenther

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