Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Essence of Time

      Time has been on my mind this week. Not in the sense of not having enough of it nor of being aware of even its passing but rather as a subject that keeps coming up in conversations and when a reoccurring theme keeps persistently poking at my attention I take it as a hint and listen.

       In a recent conversation I was told by a friend that she felt our spiritual community did not have the time for the depth of connection that I was looking for (hmmm, this gave me pause for thought.) Another conversation with a complete stranger, a harassed phlebotomist in a lab who, spurred on by an impatient person before me who stomped out, went on to consider people and their concept of taking too much of their time. This led to her considering how fast time was fleeting in her own life. She concluded her review with the intention to take three whole days off for her wedding anniversary to celebrate with her husband. Maybe they would even take a weekend trip to Amish country to buy her husbands favorite cheese she stated. Again and again the theme of time played on as I often would overhear snatches of time related comments, read about time in articles, social media, and in the messages of emails. Time is on every one's minds these days it seems.

    What is time and what is our perception of time? The definition of time is the "indefinite continued progress of existence", the measurement of a sequence of events. Before mechanical clocks time was measured by sand, wind, candles and shadows.


     Twenty four hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute. Our existing time keeping methods date back to the Sumerians in 2000BC and is called a sexagesimal numeral system 
with a base of 60. It is also defined as the "duration regarded as belonging to the present life as distinct from the life to come or from eternity, finite duration." To say we are watching the "progress of our existence" seems to give it more respect, more weight to our measure of it.

      Even in our language we use words to describe our relationship with time, all of which have an edge of movement to can be "behind the times" or "ahead of your time"; in a "race against time", or perhaps even "arrive in the nick of time"; We look forward to the "times of our lives" or "have too much time on our hands" and occasionally we all need a "time out." We are directed to "bide our time" in case we "have a devil of a time" but then again it is "only a matter of time." "Time will tell," "all in good time". Grab life when the "time is ripe" and someday you may even "hit the big time." Will your love "stand the test of time" and "oh, how time flies." "Time heals all wounds" we are told yet too, "time is of the essence" and if you are in doubt "the third time is the charm." But of course "you have all the time in the world."  Statements about time can be used as judgments accusing others of "wasting time". But who is to say what is a waste of time to another?

      Nearly everyone seems to define their lives now in relation to their "busyness" level. The definition of the word busy is " to be actively and attentively engaged in work or a past time." The key word I believe here is "attentively". Are we busy, truly mindfully, of what we are doing or are we just living from one reaction to another?

Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory with the famous melting clocks. 

      A truly generous and caring friend gave me the gift of "time to breathe" (her words) four years ago. Deep in grief, reeling from life changing events, with a profound sense of loss of my own identity, physically and emotionally exhausted and having experienced my own 'dark night of the soul' I came here to gain a different perspective, to exhale. Sometimes we just need to come to a full stop.

     In the Sufi Book of Life there are 99 pathways to Unity and one in particular is called "Returning to Rhythm". It calls for one to stop and let go so that the heart can return to its natural rhythm. When the dust settles we can see more clearly and we are better able to make decisions about the next steps to take. Coming to a full stop I was able to reassess my life and the direction it was going in at the time.  I gradually came to understand that I had taken a detour, had actually been going in the opposite direction of my own nature. Finally able to hear the whispers of my own heart I charted a new path and began to heal. Swept up in years of busyness I had allowed the ego voice of fear to dictate my actions. Standing in the center of my own being in silence reawakened parts of myself that had been stifled and closed off. The light of focus and concentration gave them strength to reemerge. 

" The Human Being is not in control of his feelings, but he is in control of his movements."-Jilani

                       "What your heart can hold, the body can accomplish."-Jilani

     Concentrating on what is important to you in your life opens you to experiences that will help you to express your passions and share your unique light. Yes, you may still have to do the grocery shopping, cook dinner and take out the trash but it's about finding balance and when you are in the flow of expressing your bliss everything you do is charged with the light of happiness. Being focused helps you to make each step count. How you begin, carry through and complete your expression is a teaching about your own inner strength. When you can feel the potential of your own creativity you will radiate with confidence. You will no longer be just busy, you will be fully engaged in your own growth.

    "It means developing the energy of the heart, which is planted with interest, sprouts with affection and then  blossoms into something for which the word love is only a shadow." Neil Douglas-Klotz

           If I hadn't stepped off the treadmill of my old life I may not have found the trail that led me back to my passions and the dreams that I had buried deeply within my heart. Once I embraced my new sense of right timing I reconnected to my own natural rhythm and I now breathe with a renewed sense of purpose. When I think of the past four plus years now I am reminded of the Charles Dickens quote from his novel "A Tale of Two Cities"..."It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." for as we grow we need both the shadow and the light . We need the essence of both in order to become whole, in order to breathe. In order to find and pursue our purpose we must be willing to stand in our center and let time pass us by.  Let your minutes and hours be ones filled with genuine connection. May the time you have be just enough time... 

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