Untiming

I have been pondering time quite often recently. Perhaps that fact is due to my encroaching 30th birthday, a marker that at several points in my life, I wondered if I would reach. Yet here I am, a few months or moments away from a new trip and a new decade around the sun.

Time is a construct. No doubt you've heard that one before. More and more, I think on what that means, how to express our human inadequacy and also our desperate need to quantify and categorize this concept of time.

At least in my Western world, we generally accept time to progress in a linear fashion. The easiest example of that being we are born, we live, we grow old, we die. We mark the passage of time by celebrating birthdays, by conjuring milestones often attached to those birthdays (driving, buying cigarettes and lotto tickets, drinking), by placing societal expectations around specific times (when you should finish college, get married, have children, enjoy retirement), and by wearing watches, installing clocks in most rooms, and planning lunch dates, meetings, and weekends away in our calendars. Some of us may even have a sixth sense of sorts, being able to estimate the time even after hours away from a clock and finding ourselves eerily on the mark.

But what exactly is the point of all of this? Does counting time down to the millisecond make life easier or more difficult? Certainly other cultures have or have historically had a much looser concept of time. In the feudal era, seasons were far more important markers of time than the concept of 9 am-5 pm business hours (There was no 9-5.). In fact, crunching time down into hours and minutes helps who more than capitalist giants? To them, time is money. What about the rest of us?

My grandfather, after retiring, decided he no longer wanted to spring forward or fall back with the rest of the state of Indiana. He choose the time that worked best for him, for his body, for his spirit and stuck to it. He came out of that bubble only when he needed to meet someone carried along by the majority tide of counting hours. He lived that way for the rest of his life, an island of his own construction. A more peaceful man I have never known.


I have adopted this concept of losing myself outside of time. While I have set hours where I work and I do make plans that compliment the schedules of others, I put my phone on airplane mode, step outside of a house full of clocks, and disappear somewhere into the blues and greens of nature as often as possible. In those wide open spaces, I am no longer doing. I am being. I am using all five senses. I am stripped down to my wildling soul. I am one with the earth's slow and steady turn where the word "hurry" has yet to be invented, where the flora and fauna do whatever their nature compels them whenever they are compelled.

Would the world end if we stopped springing forward and falling back the way my grandfather did? Would life as we've constructed it end if we all suddenly forgot about counting seconds? What if we did not burden others with expectations of when what must be done, be it finishing high school or affording a starter home? What if we all spent fewer hours in the office in favor of watching dragonflies zip through the air or seeds on stalks of tall grass scatter onto the ground? What if we no longer feared death as the end because we no longer experienced life as a rigid and linear entity?

Here is my best example of escaping a linear life: Our emotional life. Recently, the idea of the five stages of grief has undergone revolutionary changes, due to the fact that grief does not move in a predictable, linear fashion. Grief is a circle, a figure 8, a spiral with no beginning and no end. Trying to organize grief is as fruitless as organizing time. There is so much outside of our control, so much outside of our understanding, so much we try to force into a straight line, but like a strand of DNA or cluster of nerves, doing so is killing us. Expectations for our emotional state--that it must match factors outside of our bodies and our natural state of being--lead to burnout, addiction, suppression, repression, unhealthy relationships, chronically unhappy people, suicide, homicide. For a concept of the past, we create false memories. We all do as shown in scientific studies. We imagine false futures; sometimes we lose ourselves in those desperate desires. Worst of all, we forget about the now. But the now is all we have. Everything else is an illusion and so, I say to you, is time.

While barring a huge disruption to life as we know it, the linear concept of time in larger society is not going anywhere. However, today and for every future rising of the sun we may be privileged enough to see, I urge you to move from a state of doing, of hurrying, of chasing and into a state of being, of breathing, of living.

I can't tell you how long you could disappear for because that would be contrary to this post. So disappear for as long as you need. When your soul is quiet and your light is fully ablaze within you once more, you will know. Perhaps you will be shocked at how loud your mind is, how unbalanced you've become, but stick with yourself; trust that this is nature's process. Sit with your feelings. Let them come and go with no time limit, no matter how painful they may at first be. Growth never comes without pain. Then when you are full again, you will be ready to reenter the world of human constructions.

So go be an animal. Untime yourself. Cry. Dance. Lie back and listen to the core of your being. Allow it to match the core of this Earth. Let your armpit hair shine in the sun and your stretch marks taste the wind. Go be nothing. Go be everything.

Go.

Be free. Be you.

Be.
EY


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