Yes, it IS about Time

It's never really about time or money,  said a wise but mistaken psychotherapist.  

Yes, it IS about time, really.  Time is change, for one thing, and change is our only true master.  Now I write, but in 25 minutes it will be time to go to the podiatrist.  Later it will be time to go home, time to go to sleep, time to wake up, time to work, time to cook, time to do the dishes.  Time seems to move too fast, meaning that I am too slow to change.  I wish I could be time, as Zen Master Dogen teaches; I would be the clock, the moving part, the changing thing.  The problem is that I need time to truly absorb this lesson and I'm in too much of a rush to stop and…. 

Time is collaboration.  If I'm meeting you at two o'clock, we both agree to pace our changing selves to arrive at the same moment in the same place. 

Time is a decision, a commitment to do one thing and not another.  Those of us with attentional problems have trouble grasping this.   All those other possibilities chatter away, fragmenting the mind and decimating the pursuit of depth.   

In the interior of my being, I sense, is a treasure cove to which the entrance fee is time.   There, in the interior, things unravel, unfold and reveal themselves slowly.  They do not respond to pressure, to commands.  They do not sprint!   At the entrance to the cove, I am told to leave my company behind.  Buddha did.  All the heroes who found their way were alone.  I am no hero but I need to be alone.  Not that I am ever really alone.  Like most people, I constantly feel the presence of relationships through my thoughts and feelings.  But when I am not required to respond with conversation, I can 'hear myself think.'  Given time, the thoughts become deeper and more connected to each other, and then they begin to speak to me.  

Like many people in this day and age, I am not given juicy blocks of time for this magical process.   Some of you know that I have previously demanded empty time.  Sadly, I must now admit that the practice lasted only several weeks, only as long as I maintained the energy to push aside other needs.   Stop pushing and they display their dominance.  Bullies is what they are. Nasty needs.

But what am I talking about?  I'd love to blame it on my family.  Their needs are more important than mine?  Certainly the culture tells me that, but I should be able to stand up to that downtrodden old horse.  Not to mention my practice of embracing all activity as equally worthy.   It's more than that.  If I install 2 hours of empty time, where do I put the hours necessary for daily tasks--making food, cleaning up, getting dressed; or paid work; or the gazillion other structured activities?

Where, indeed?  That's the question.  There is only one way to answer it:

The Schedule.

What is so freeing about a Zen retreat is that everything is scheduled--no decisions to make.  I'm greedy.  I want to be free all the time, every day.  To do that, I need a schedule.  Not just any schedule but an honest schedule, one that incorporates all the things I want and need in proper proportion.  Taking a tip from The Now Habit, I began to document all the stuff that takestime:  meals, cleanup, transportation, appointments, and so on, and discovered that there is almost no time leftover for anything extra.  This is oddly clarifying, almost freeing but not quite.  It frees me from the self-blame--I should be using my time better.  Why can't I get anything done?  What is wrong with me?

Almost free.  The next step is to shove in some of that time I need--empty time, play time, whatever I want to call this thing that no one else values but me.  As I shove, something gets kicked out.  Then I have to negotiate with my collaborators in life. Honey, can you walk the dog on Thursday after your long work/school day even though you're tired/have homework/have to make dinner so that I can hang around doing nothing long enough to open my soul?  

And after I manage that, I'm almost free, because that when the real work begins.  That's when I become time itself, the beat of my heart moves the clock forward.  I am being time and time disappears.  

Hey, what's the rush?



Note:  The dilemma of Rushing spawned a whole new section--Work With It.  

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