Time will be. Time will be. Time, as we use it, is a human construct for measuring. How much do you have left? On time? Quality time? Best time? Spending time? How long did it take you? How long will it take you? Are you killing time? Passing time? Is time wasting? Time out? Many idioms and phrases commonly used in the English language seem to me to limit time. What is time? How is it defined? How do we use it to relate to goals and expectations? What are our modern expectations of time? We use it to measure and judge, but do we use it to grow? I know that one way we measured time was by tracking the number of suns or moons that passed with pictures.
There are water clocks, sundials, hourglasses, candles marked to measure the hour, geared clocks, atomic clocks, calendars of all sorts, but how do we define time? The first entry, in the 1971 Oxford English Dictionary, defines time as
a limited stretch or space of continued existence, as the interval between two successive events or acts, or the period through which and action, condition, or state continues…
Then, it becomes more nebulous as in “a particular period” and then more distinct as being characterized by personal experience. As we begin the New Year, a marker of past and future events and a celebration of the present, it might be good to ask oneself how you mark time especially in relation to goals. (As I tried to sleep through the, what sounded like, several quarter sticks of dynamite being lit, I was thinking about this.) I think many of us do ourselves a disservice by putting an unrealistic time frame on goals. Big changes, whether that be developing greater compassion, weight loss, meditation, yoga routines, or any major commitment to change take many little steps over a greater period of time. (For instance, I’m congratulating myself right now for getting up and writing this.) As we devote ourselves to those smaller steps, the goal can seem that much closer and that much farther away. It is simply learning to be satisfied with where you are right now. Being present. Letting time be.
As I age, I’ve found that time is a very interesting dynamic. Time simply did not exist when I was a child. I would play, read, and draw happily all day until it was time for me to go to bed – crushing. When school began, time became of the essence and, as it progressed, repressive. Through my goal oriented 20’s and early 30’s, it morphed into a way that I could either exalt myself or run myself down. Now, though, it’s something much different. It’s become boundless. The less I bind time to goals the more I live event to event, moment to moment; the more gratitude and presence I feel in my practices as an artist, instructor, friend, daughter, companion; the more I’m okay with just being…me.
If you’re in a contemplative mood, think about reflecting on how you define time at the moment, throughout the day, over the course of a week or month, over a year, over a lifetime. Think about the many ways you measure achievement via time. Can you broaden your definition of time? How do you feel in time? Can you create a space of time?
Have a happy New Year! May it be filled with good health, love, compassion, and boundless time.