Time without Meaning

Western understanding of time is that it is a commodity to be exchanged for money. Our entire system, including institutions, commerce, systems for governance and lifestyle, is based on our time-is-money definition. It creates an environment in which clock combat is king. We immerse ourselves in a pressure cooker and wonder why our heads and hearts hurt so badly.

A sign found in Jaipur, India.

A sign found in Jaipur, India.

Our preoccupation with time is further intensified through our alienation from the natural world. Who has time to dally about, reflect or pause? It is too costly, we argue. We can’t afford it.

But Nature and the time we spend with it is as essential as good nutrition. We are natural beings. We need Nature to remember who we are and why we are here. Our communion with the natural world has been forgotten. And yet it is as important as the air we breathe.

For the past few weeks I have been traveling about Nepal and now India, feeling at one with all things and wonder how I could feel so comfortable in a place so foreign to my usual surroundings.

And then, as I strolled through the desert amongst camels and nomads, it suddenly hit me. The people here mill about towns just as casually as the cows and dogs and monkeys that inhabit the places we have seen. The co-mingle, co-exist and co-inhabit with Nature. The food they eat is real food. It is Slow Food that actually doesn’t need capitalization. They don’t eat processed foods geared toward saving time in its preparation because time and nature are the same.

When we return next week, I hope to remember the lessons I have learned here and, to my very best ability, uphold the same understanding I have gained during my travels to these most exquisite places.

I am humbled by the experience. Blessings to you all.

Listening to the Whispers of Time

The Universe is an ever-expanding, timeless place. Yet we act as if time were real, measuring out our lives in coffee spoons as the late T.S. Eliot liked to say. We also act as if the things that happen have an infinite meaning, pressed in indelible ink on the pages of our life’s script. A negative comment, a weirdish interaction, a conflict with a co-worker — we often give too much weight to the one thing that is not working, instead of focusing on all the things that do.

Recently, I took a walk in the woods, as I often do, to sort out life’s complications. I began the journey by making a mental list of all the things that were going well. One-half hour into my walk, I realized I hadn’t stopped listing the good in my life. Why, then, do we spend 90% of our time on the 10% that is broken?

It has to do with our brains. We are hard-wired to focus on the threatening things — real or imagined — to secure our existence. If you were to believe the media today, you might even think that the world is about to end if we don’t pay attention to all the dangers lurking just beneath the surface of virtually everything with which we come into contact.

The premise of this blog — and my life’s work — is that it is possible to have a more positive relationship with the clock. But since time doesn’t really exist, we need to treat it as an imaginary friend who can still have a great deal of influence on how we do things. Every once in a while we need to do a time audit by looking at how we have spent the last year, for instance. Doing taxes is a fine exercise in revisiting the time we have spent and the things we have done within that framework. What made us happy (do more of that)? What made us cringe (avoid it, if possible)? Who entered our lives at the most amazing moment (say a prayer of gratitude)? Who left (and we were glad)? How do we wish to spend this year?

Listening to the whispers of time is instructive. Watching a child, plant or animal grow is a fine example of time’s sweet nothings pressed close to our ears. Seeing clients, friends or material items move beyond us illustrates the endless heartbeat of the Universe. Nothing ever stays the same.

So why on Earth should we?


Dancing Outside of Time

Have you ever wondered why you can pick up where you left off in a conversation with really good friends, even if distance and time separate you?

Have you ever considered why time seems to fly when you spend time with someone you truly love?

Researchers will tell you it is because your time perception is skewed by desire, expectation for reward and motivation to achieve a goal.

But I have another theory.

We live in two systems: the first arranges our lives around the clock: 8 am breakfast meeting; 10 am Skype call; noon lunch meeting and don’t-forget-to-pick-the-kids-up-after-soccer-practice this afternoon. It is a structured existence in which we operate much like machines. 

Only we aren’t machines. We are living, breathing human beings with feelings.

The second system relates to our emotional world. Because love is the strongest emotion, it suspends time altogether, making the clock, and everything bound to it, absolutely irrelevant. We literally dance outside of time when we spend it with people who give us positive emotions.

Time is a construct, an organizing principle that alleviates commercial trade. It isn’t real. And yet we live as if it were. When love enters the picture, its power overrides our sense of time crunch, hurriedness and desperate lunge to the finish line. All of it fades into the background when we experience the wonders of love.

It explains why I can talk to my best friend for two hours straight while it feels like twenty minutes. Or why a week spent with my love feels like an hour. Or why a chat with my mom whizzes by at the speed of light.

The ties that bind us feed our souls.

The only solution I’ve found to clock combat is to love time itself. Even though it is something we’ve made up — like an imaginary friend — it feels real to us. If we embrace time as a friend, it will give back to us just as our real friends do.

And then we can all dance in and out of time – together.


The Wicked Winds of March

March can be a cruel month. The snow melts, the sun beams, the flowers peek their noses above the earth’s surface. And then, just when you least expect it, a snowstorm pelts you back into winter again.

Life can be like that too. Setbacks are a part of our existence, and yet they often send us reeling back to places we’d rather not be. Expectations go unfulfilled and we wonder what’s the sense of it all.

But if we slow down our pace to actually tune into what’s happening in the subtext of our lives, we will realize that what is happening is the very best thing for us in that moment.

Oh sure, we might wail, flail and flounce about wishing things were different (kind of like when you have your heart set on wearing that skimpy dress only to find out it’s subzero temperatures outside). But if we embrace everything that happens to us as the Universe cradling us in our very best interest, well, things don’t looks so bad after all.

I have to laugh out loud at the humor of the Universe. It places people in our path just when we need them. As one person told me last fall, you always find what you are looking for.

If you are looking to live life to the fullest, you’ll be sure to get that experience.

If you are looking to stay safe within the confines of the life you have built, you’ll get that.

If you are looking to break free from convention and really taste all that life has to offer, by golly! It’ll be on your plate in a snap.

We really are the masters of our own ships. We have more control than we realize. We can work with the clock to make every moment count and we can choose how we spend our days…and with whom.

If that cruel March wind has knocked you down, remember that warmer times are coming. Keep the fire in your heart burning and you will get back on track.

Joy can be yours for the asking even if the storm just won’t stop howling around your ears.

Arriving Right on Time ~ Every Time

Commuting to the sound stage 80 miles round trip can be unnerving. Unforseeable traffic snags, endless red lights, and the early morning fog that encapsulates my head sometimes are variables that invite clock combat on the highest levels.

time warpSo I decided to try something new ~ as I motored toward the film studio in hopes of a timely arrival, I decided that the very moment I arrive is the right moment. Not a second too soon, not a second too late. Even as I seemed to hit every red light from the point my decision was made until the entry gate at Bavaria Films, I embraced time as friend.

The amazing part? I arrived in record time.

Ever since I tried my time collapse experiment, the commute seems to get shorter and shorter and infused with more miracles than I care to count. There is something to be said for acceptance. Time abundance can be ours when we choose the here and now as the very place we are.

Every time.