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Posts Tagged ‘time’


By about this time in December – the Sagittarian time of excess in all we do (shopping, spending, socializing, busy-ing ~ more, more, more!) I begin to long for the Capricornian austerities of January.  As I buy one more thing, eat one more outrageous food, prepare for one more social event, I am glad for the cyclical nature of life, knowing that it will soon enough be balanced by more simplicity.

I used to think that it would be nice if things were more spread out – if the bright lights of December were dimmed just a bit so that January wouldn’t be so cold and dark.  However, it seems that there is something that draws us inexorably towards these extremes.

I’m seeing it now as I revel in unemployment after a very long stretch of working with hardly any time off.  It’s odd this world of being an IT contractor and the oddness is just this same cyclical nature of things – lots of money followed by none, no time off followed by an ocean of it.

And just as I begin to long for January before Christmas has even arrived, so too there comes a time in my longed-for time off when I’m eager to get back to work.  I’m not there yet this time around (this being the start of week two of the longed-for time off) but I’m quite aware that it will come and so I don’t try to grasp these precious days of indolence, rather just to enjoy them.

What I know is this:  I can trust the process.  I can “be here now” as Ram Dass instructed.  Ecclesiastes had this right – “to every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Be with the busy-ness, the surfeit, the calories, the credit cards.  But more importantly – be with the people you love, the fellowship, the connection, the magic and the wonder.  It’s a moment in time – savor it all.

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It’s spring!


Mondays are Physical Day here at Taking it to the Streets

My friend Bill is taking a geography class and he was explaining how geographers denote the seasons – it involved the sun and specific latitudes, as I recall.  As an astrologer, I say the seasons are marked by the sun’s ingress into the four cardinal signs that anchor the year – Aries (spring); Cancer (summer); Libra (fall); and Capricorn (winter).

But of course, if you live in a temperate zone, really you just need to go outside.  Despite Chicago’s remarkable (at least Tom Skilling, our weather guy, seems to be remarking on it a lot this week!) cold weather of late, one can tell it’s spring not only by the Sun being in Aries or at a specific latitude, or by the calendar – but also by the fat robins hopping about, the mounting choruses of birdsong, the incipient buds on the trees, that beautiful early morning in spring light.  And, if you’re in Chicago, starting to see people wearing their Cubs attire, rather than their Bears or Bulls attire.

It’s in spring, too, that we get to remember that however fancily we’re attired (Cubs, Bears, Armani, what have you) we are a fancy species of animal, but animals none the less.  So, like our four legged counterparts we start to awaken in all sorts of ways.

As the earth awakens from her slumbers and our lumbering dormant bodies awaken too, it’s a great time to awaken from dreaming our dreams into creating  our dreams.  A time to charge forth, dig in and hit the rowdy road. 

I’m ready for some new beginnings.  As George Harrison said “it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter – but here comes the sun!”

I say – Bring it on!  And, oh, yeah – Go, Cubs!

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This past Wednesday was Autumn Equinox – the moment when the Sun enters the sign of Libra ushers in the autumn as we stop for a moment with equal day/equal night (thus ‘equi’ ‘nox’).  The days, getting shorter since Summer Solstice, are now getting WAY shorter – each day a bit darker than the one before. 

But on that day (and its counterpart in the spring) the days and nights are of equal length.

Perhaps that’s why the ancient astrologers assigned to Libra the scales, and the quality of balance.

It’s been such a subterranean theme for me just lately as I stand poised between my old job and my new one, between one daily routine and a new one that seems like it will be quite different. 

I’ve noted that my normally very extroverted self seems to be requiring more solitude, more meditation, more just BE-ing, and less DO-ing than I am normally about (my brother has referred to me, aptly, as “the doer of all things”). 

In the past I would have had some judgements about my seeming indolence.  Chided myself to “get off yer ass and get to work!” or other non-helpful ‘motivations’.  Now I observe.  Ah, I say, Self seems to want to just sit and play computer games and zone out – hmmm.  Ah, now it seems to be time for a flurry of chores.  Oh, I see, it’s time to connect with a friend.

I think we all have rhythms and more of them than we purportedly rational beings would like to acknowledge, are driven by our animal-selves.  The changing of the light, the strong signalling the Earth gives us in the transitional seasons, alerts our Inner Animal that change is required.  While I’m far from a hibernating bear I have long observed that I sleep a bit more in the winter than in summer.  I noticed I wanted soup, not salad, for lunch yesterday. 

So I look to honor this balancing time by listening to my body/soul and also attending to my commitments – to myself and to others. 

I wrote a book called Be Your Own Life Coach : Dream it! Plan it! Do it! (now out of print) – a personal growth book focused on helping people clarify and achieve their goals.  My favorite part of the book though is a few pages on which I acknowledge the dance between DO-ing and BE-ing and how important it is to honor what  IS, not just plow ahead mindlessly.

There’s as much danger in the plowing ahead mindlessly, I believe as in the equally dangerous habit of indolence and just “letting it all hang out.”

I think it’s all about consciousness.

Quick tip of the hat to my new friend Sara McIntosh and her fabulous blog My Dispenza Days (noted here before) which focuses on consciousness and has me thinking lots on that topic.

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I’m thinking today about time and whether the past exists, what its meaning is, and if it’s ever over.

Today is the wedding anniversary of two couples very special to me.  Some very beloved family members celebrate 36 years of marriage today.  And two dear friends who would be married were gay marriage legal in Illinois, celebrate 20 years together today.

It’s also been a year since a relationship I had been in ended.

And yesterday marked the passing of my nephew Paul  (through marriage) who died in a diving accident 7 years ago.

The events being marked all occurred in the past – from a year ago to 36 years.  We celebrate some (anniversaries, birthdays), commemorate others (the anniversary of a death – often privately remembered).  And some we may wish to forget, but (at least if you’re like me) our souls & spirits remember for us nonetheless.

We seemingly float or rush down the river of time, some parts being rapids (and feeling just as giddy or dangerous), some meandering, some seemingly at a standstill.  It appears as though the river of time moves us past the riverbanks (people, places, events in our lives) and on to the next.

Is that true?

And it seems like once you’ve passed by that you’re done and won’t be going back.

So what is memory?  And what is time?  And is the past really passed?  Is it gone? Does it have meaning?

People make their lifetime’s work out of being archaeologists of the effects of the past on our present being (therapists).  And yet, other than obvious trauma I think we mostly assume that the past is indeed passed and has no impact on our now.

And yet I think it affects everything – from the quite mundane to the profound.  In conscious and unconscious ways.

When I was young and quite wild I got crazy drunk-sick-oh-I-think-I’ll-just-die-now from drinking Ouzo, the greek liqueur.  It’s been decades now and I no longer drink. But if I’m at a Greek restaurant and someone near me gets Ouzo just that aroma makes me physically gag and want to head for the exits.  Memory.  And kind of mundane, yes? Like driving the long way because of a detour that is no longer there – it’s a habit, a memory, that once served us and is now superfluous.

So the mystery of what IS time really, has intrigued me and I’ve written a post What is Time before.

But what I’m wondering this morning, musing on the anniversaries (happy and not) is the question of whether the past is ever really passed.  How do you know when it’s over?  I go back to the philosopher-hero of my youth, Yogi Berra “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

Because Paul visited me recently – just a wisp of light, a sense of movement, but it felt like a little “hello there.”  I catch glimpses, too, of that young bearded hippie artist type who married my sister, even though he’s a clean-shaven, businessman and grandfather now – I can still see that hopeful wild boy.

The seemingly ephemeral love affair I was gifted with last year – so profound and yet brief – affects me still.

You know how in dreams you’re at a party and there are people there from all different eras of your life and it’s like your 9-year-old self is connecting with your childhood best friend while your businesswoman self chats with a colleague and your wild hippie girl self is pounding down a few beers with some chums and it’s all now and all at the same time?  I wonder if THAT is more the truth and this mundane world into which I must shortly dive (work, work, work!) is more the dream.

What do you think?  Is it ever really over?  Is time real?

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What is time?


As mentioned in an earlier post, my beloved Aunt Dory, in Oslo, seems to be dying.  Her daughter wrote me today to say it could be today – and certainly in the next week.  It makes me wonder about our life spans. Are we born just to die?  Why do we get old?

I’ve been thinking about my post “Why Can’t We Be Good?” and how I ‘waste’ so much time.  Is it quantifiable (seems like)?  What is ‘wasting time’?

What IS time?  Is it linear, as it appears to be?  My favorite quote about time comes from the ineffable Albert Einstein who wrote: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute — then it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity!”  That’s so true, ya?  Haven’t you had conversations in which 10 minutes seemed like ETERNITY?  And conversely, anyone who has fallen crazy in love can remember nights that flew by in, oh, two seconds (what! it’s 6 am already?!).

I read a fascinating book by my favorite contemporary philosopher/writer on philosophy, Jacob Needleman (author of “Why Can’t We Be Good?”).  His book on time is called “Time and the Soul:  Where has all the Meaningful Time Gone and Can we Get it Back?

I think the subtitle sort of contains a bit of the answer.

Here’s a quote from the prologue:  “It is our famine, the famine of a culture that has chosen things over time, the external world over the inner world.”  I could probably pick one quote a day from this book and write for a year (same thing with Sarah Susanka’s “The Not so Big Life).

Einstein was right about the relativity of time.  I know that when I am fully embodied and emotionally engaged in the moment i have stepped into eternity.  Oh, in the really big moments of life one expects that transcendental, liminal sense:  birth, death, that crazy space of falling in love. 

But it’s also present whenever we are truly engaged.  Creativity, for one.  Sunday I had friends coming for my women’s group. Usually I go to their turf but this time they were coming to mine and i wanted to make it nice.  I spent all day Saturday cleaning (and I clean every week so this was quite extraordinary special cleaning!) but the real joy of it all came on Sunday.  I wanted to make them food that reflected my renewed interest in localvorism – eating locally grown foods. I had gone to the Farmer’s market on Saturday and so on Sunday I made an amazing crustless Quiche with locally grown swiss chard, leeks, asparagus, Farmer Nick’s eggs and some cream and cheese that alas, were not local.  But the point is, while I was making this Quiche I was just enthralled with life.  Totally “in the zone”.  I was creating. And it was good. (and so was the Quiche, by the way!)

When I interact with small children (which I do whenever possible) i am totally present.

When I meditate I OFTEN am totally present (but sometimes am antsy, distracted, mentally making lists, etc. – i.e., human).

And speaking of meditation I think that is another clue.  Listen to this from page 39:  “Freedom from time – the approximate term for which is ‘immortality’ – awaits you; you are made for that, but you must search and search to receive in your life the winds of this immortality, this endless presence, that are constantly being sent to man from the center of the universe.”

And that leads us, really, to mysticism, to God, to the essence of  Who we are and Why we are here.

When I was about 7 years old I had my first (and one of my only) truly mystical experiences.  It was spring.  Warm.  There was a horseshoe-shaped clump of lilac bushes in the side yard of the old farm-house my parents rented in Ft. Wayne, Indiana (around which a subdivision had sprung up in the postwar building boom).  I was outside playing and I laid down in the middle of the lilacs.  I felt the sun on my body and suddenly I totally and completely got it that the lilacs and the sun and the green grass upon which I was lying were all the same thing and that it was all vibrantly, excitedly joyous and made of love.  I’m much older than 7 now, but I remember it vividly still. 

So what is THAT time?  What is it that makes the 61-year-old remember that 7 year old’s joy and be able to recall it as though it were now?

I guess that leads us to consciousness and memory, now doesn’t it.  and oh what a tangled web we weave.

How is the me that was 7 and the me that is 61 and the me who will be 83 (but isn’t yet) – how are those the same?

Is time linear?  My friend Julia studies precognition (she’s got a PhD from Northwestern) and she would tell you it’s not.  AT least not in the way we conventionally think of it.

On page 142 Jacob Needleman has “The Great Answer”, to wit:

“What became clear, and what can become clear for all of us who are starved for time, is that the answer to the problem of time is not more time, not more efficiency, not even in itself longer biological life, not children, not artistic creations that we pretend will bring us immortality, not some sentimental relationship to imaginary gods, or non-gods.  The answer to the problem and the sorrow of time is one thing and one thing only:  the experience of meaning.  And this experience occurs only when the Self touches the self, when the soul touches the ego. When the two worlds meet.”

As “It’s a Beautiful Day” sang on “Time Is”

“Time is Too Slow for Those Who Wait
and Time is too Swift  for Those Who fear
Time is too Long  for Those who Grieve
And time is Too short for Those that Laugh
And Love is too slow  for those who Wait
And Love is too Swift for Those who Fear
And Love is too Long  for those who Grieve
And Love is too short for Those that Laugh
But for Those who Love
But for Those who Really Love
But for Those Who Love
Time, Sweet Time, Precious Time, Lovely Time
All the Time
Time Time Time TIme TIme TIme TIme Time Time 
is Eternity”

I’ll meet you in the lilac bushes by the side of the house and we can go explore Eternity.

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