“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. an alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.” – Mitch Albom; The Time Keeper.
I have been thinking about the concept of time the past few days. Time is man-made however this physical reality we live in is linear. I remember watching a show a few years ago on near death experiences and I heard one man say of his experience that in the afterlife, there is no concept of time whatsoever. This blew my mind. Imagine living in a world where there’s no such thing as time. No past, present or future. No need to keep track of the minutes, hours or dates. Just being where you are. Ekhart Tolle has a whole book on being in the present moment, The Power of Now. However, remaining focused solely on the present moment and preventing the mind from wandering is difficult since we’re conditioned to live our lives around time. It’s not impossible though as there are moments in which we naturally focus on the present. Such moments can be found whilst doing creative work, savouring time spent with friends, family, your lover. Days spent at the theme park or extreme activities such as mountain climbing or sky diving also naturally encourage relishing in the present moment. These events take us away and we forget the need to be on our phone or checking the time to ensure that we are on track or waiting for the next moment before it’s arrived. As a result, the beauty of life is appreciated and joy is felt.
When time is forgotten, life is so fun and stress free. Obviously everybody has responsibilities and so cannot really eliminate time from their life. However I look back on my life last summer with a strong feeling of freedom associated to it. I had graduated university and was having a whale of a time. I actually felt as though I had all the time in the world and life had just begun. The world was my oyster and I was spending my free days being unemployed gaining work experience or meeting friends. As time went on (the irony) I began to feel that I needed to begin proving myself or before I knew it, I’d be looking back at myself in disappointment. Disappointment that I had let time slip away and wasn’t attaining what I desired such as pursuing my dreams and a career. Those thoughts were fear based and false since fear is an illusion. Whilst I was enjoying myself, the opportunities were coming to me anyway and I was focused on the freedom before me.
Earlier this year I felt stagnant. I felt as if time was running out and I was just watching the days pass. Nothing seemed to be going my way and I was not having as much carefree fun as I had in the summer. The days became boring and I felt that my time was worthless. During the first half of this year, I had chosen to see my time as wasted when really everything works out how it’s supposed to. I was too focused on everything I was lacking which happens easily when the mind has too much time to wander and isn’t tamed. The abundance I felt last summer had gone as I felt a lack of it in time and opportunities. Thankfully I am enjoying myself again and see structure and value to my days. I am seeing and embracing opportunities and no longer feel stagnant or lack.
“Time is an illusion.” – Albert Einstein
The illusion of time and not having enough reduces joy. It increases stress and the feeling of life slipping away. Where do such feelings and thoughts come from? Our ego. The mind craves control and the ego is fear based. Choose freedom. There is a feeling of freedom found in detaching from the notion of time as life begins to be viewed with an open mind. With freedom in your heart and an open mind, joy is felt a lot easier in each moment.
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” – Ekhart Tolle; The Power of Now
Time is precious as we each have the power to bring value to it through meaningful moments and events. Therefore the concept of time is best utilised to our advantage by making it enjoyable rather than letting it be a disadvantage through lack of presence.