Time As A Point Of Reference

C3482B64-09B3-4437-ADE0-89DDA7D214FAToday I took a walk on the beach outside my home. The tide was just beginning to come in so I walked in the wet part of the sands and made footprints going in different directions. I was a child creating a map of confusion as some of my prints pointed that way and others pointed this way. Some toward the sea, others toward the land, and some even toward the sky. When I reached the end of my morning sojourn, I turned around and headed back, retracing my steps.

I was thinking about the early explorers and how they were able to navigate uncharted seas when the stars in the sky no longer matched the stars with which they were familiar. When the big dipper and the North star were no longer points of reference, what did they use as a guide? Was it courage which fueled their quest? Did they not fear falling off the end of the world? They could always turn around and retrace their steps the way I was doing, I reckoned.

I no sooner had this thought when an unannounced wave came upon me. I was caught off guard. I was surprised. I froze, not from the temperature of the water for it was warm, but from its suddenness. In that moment, a second maybe three, maybe more, I do not know. Time stopped. All movement stopped. The constant roar of the sea stopped. There was silence. I stood there in the footprints of my unmoving feet and saw the trail they had made only minutes before covered by the sea. I did not have to look behind me. I knew those footprints were covered also. Without past or future where was I. Without the familiar, without the known, and unable to retrace my steps, where was I? I was in the present moment, locked in place for however long that moment lasted. Then the sea moved again. I could feel the sand slipping from beneath my feet and took a step forward.

Maybe in times such as this all one can do is take that first step again and again. Whenever it is needed. We make each moment the present moment without holding on to any points of reference. No breadcrumb trails, no familiar stars or footprints in the sand to guide us back home. No past, no future, no time, just now.

I don’t know how things happen or why but I have come to trust that things happen for a reason, although often it takes a while for that reason to be known. When I returned to my cabin and changed into some dry clothing, I picked up my battery operated cassette radio to see what time it was. I am not a big fan of clocks so this is the only clock I have other than the time on my computer. It has managed to keep perfect time for over twenty years. Today the liquid crystal display had some of its display missing so that an eight looked like a six in the last digit of the minutes. No problem. I can live with that. A few hours later the entire display was gone. I replaced the batteries but there was no change. Time had stopped again. At least as recorded by this clock.

In truth it did not matter. I have no place to be and no particular time to be there of I did. Checking the time was more a habit than a necessity. I do wonder if the two experiences of time are related and if the sea and the dead clock were trying to remind me that this moment, right now, is all I have?

In The Absence Of Time

FCF38573-2929-4C13-B491-12CD9E788FD0I know a place where time has
no points of reference to hold onto,
no hands sweeps across its well worn face,
no seconds eat away at  existence,
no flashing light marks the arrival or passing.
Here, in this infinite space, all dreams live forever.
Everything, is expressed in the moment called now.
Here, each embrace is the only one I desire.
Here, I come whole and leave so much wiser.

Thinking

Thinking is reading my thoughts aloud to myself, and is one of four things I have done for myself most of my life along with reading, writing and dreaming. I love thinking first of all because it does not require any tools like writing, or props like reading and unlike dreaming, thinking can be done at any time. I do not have to be in any particular state of consciousness. I can be completely unnoticed while I am thinking. I can be looking out of a train window totally lost in thought and no one would know that I am thinking nor would anyone know what I am thinking about. Anyone seeing me would think I am just enjoying the scenery.

My thoughts are private until I choose to share them. Thinking does not have rules like writing. Thinking does not have to be organized like reading. Thinking does not have a particular order to follow. Thinking does not have an introduction, a story line or plot. There is nothing permanent with thinking. In that way it is like dreaming. I would go so far to say that dreaming is just thinking with pictures and occurs during a sleep state. One might day dream but that is just another form of thinking in an awaken state.

I believe I enjoy thinking so much because I am an introvert. I would rather be with my own thoughts than with most people. I enjoy the company of my own thoughts more than conversing with people because thoughts which are spoken are subject to interpretation or misinterpretation while my own thinking is not. I do not misinterpret my own thinking, nor can anyone else.

Like any good thing, thinking can have its down side. I have spent many a night thinking when I would rather be dreaming and sleeping. Fortunately, I learned to meditate years ago and can use it to stop my runaway thinking if needed, but that does not happen too often. There is so much in life to think about. I will never run out of material, but unfortunately I think, I will eventually run out of time.

My New Perfect Roommate

Meet Simone, my new roommate, named after a  dream character who was always there but never in the way during a recent, somewhat traumatic time in my life. Oh, I have had some wonderful roommates during my existence on this planet, but I always felt as if I were somehow comprising my own life in order to accommodate theirs. Perhaps they felt the same. I do not know.

Compromise is necessary in a relationship and in shared accommodations, but at some point I made a conscious decision to live alone and have done so for most of my life. When I moved to Ecuador, I decided not to have anything for which I would be responsible other than myself. I did not want anything that would tie me down, infringe upon my solitude, or prevent me from traveling whenever I chose to do so. I wanted neither a partner, a pet, nor a plant. Nothing that would require time, attention, or care. I admit it. I am very selfish with my time and my life.

Well, as you can see, I have softened in my old age. I am not totally selfish I suppose, as now I have brought a plant into my home for which I am responsible. It was a difficult decision. I pondered many a long night over my choice, but when I saw Simone sitting quietly on the back of the sidewalk vendor’s booth surrounded by other brightly colored floral displays all vying for attention, I knew she would be the perfect roommate. Not as much fun as a puppy, and not as cuddly as a kitten but easy to care for. No twice a day walks and no litter box to empty. No chewed up slippers and no peeing in the corners. I was instantly smitten.

After almost a week together, my new roommate and I are getting along splendidly. Although she never seems to have much to say, she is a great listener. She listens to my ramblings all day with complete acceptance even when I practice my Spanish. What a woman! Tomorrow she gets her glass of water for the week. That is all she wants, and an occasional rain shower to clean her leaves. I would give her more but she says too much is harmful to her delicate system of roots. Maybe it is just because we are still in the honeymoon phase of our relationship. She might turn into a real bitch in a few months, and start demanding more sunshine, fertilizer, and who knows what? Maybe the removal of dead and dying leaves to maintain her youthful looks and trim figure, or a larger pot, but for now she is the perfect roommate. I could not ask for more.

A Matter Of Time

The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time.
— Bertrand Russell

Time is all I have but I can not claim ownership because I do not know when it will run out. Remember Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz? The wicked witch gave her until the sand completely ran out of the hour glass to turn over the Ruby Red Slippers. She watched in fearful anticipation each grain working its way from the top of the hourglass to the bottom. Her life, hopes and dreams slipping away with the fall of each minute eternity.

Time is not really important. In the end, how we used our time on this planet is the only measurement of our lives. The top portion of the hourglass, like life, starts out full and ends up empty. The bottom starts out empty and ends up full but we don’t get to turn it over. One life is all I have. I know the amount of time ahead for me is less than the time I have already lived. Each day I treasure waking up to this life because I know one day I will not. So it is important for me to live my life, the time I have remaining with all the fullness and richness I can fantom. So how do I do that?

Let’s look at a week in terms of lineal time. It is seven day times twenty four hours a day or one hundred sixty eight hours per week. My major fixed time allotment is work, fifty hours including travel time and the morning ritual of getting ready. Sleep, well, I devote eight hours per night to it but usually if I sleep for six hours, I consider myself lucky. There are few nights that I sleep through without interruption, but I consider those hours when I’m awake in the middle of the night to be some of my most creative if not most mental. So that’s another fifty six hours for a total so far of one hundred six hours per week devoted to work and sleep. So how do I spend the remaining sixty two hours of my week?

The bulk of that remaining time, thirty two hours (sixteen hours of sleep time already accounted for) takes place on my two days off and the remaining thirty hours or six hours per day (including an hour for lunch) during the work week is the most important part of my life. It is the time left for me to structure how I choose. There are some fixed elements included in this time such as chores, laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning, etc. but it is still time which I decide how best to utilize.

Because this time is so important, I am very protective of my solitude and privacy. I enjoy my unscheduled time, primarily alone to do the things I enjoy the most: reading, writing, thinking and dreaming. I don’t own a television and I am not a big movie fan. If I do watch a movie, It has to be a movie which entertains me and takes me completely outside of myself to spend two of my precious hours engaged in watching. Fiction and dramas, I’m afraid, are to reflective of life, which I would rather live than watch.

I enjoy my own company, so if I’m going to spend time with another person, that person has to be at least as interesting to me as I am to myself, else why even go there? It is important also to not permit others to schedule my time for me without my permission. Don’t volunteer my time to take someone to the airport just because it’s my day off. Especially if it’s my day off. I know your first reaction is that I am selfish and that would be true. I am very selfish with my time because in the end, time is all I have had.

The important thing here is that unscheduled time is really unscheduled as much as possible and if scheduled, it is full of the things I enjoy doing. I may do absolutely nothing but sit and watch the clouds drifting across the sky or the dogs running in the yard or the trees swaying in the wind and I am perfectly at peace utilizing this precious gift in the manner I choose.

Disclaimer: All this talk about time is moot when I am in love. In this euphoria, time changes from a lineal dimension to a multidimensional one. Those things which fill my time are still important but are now viewed in a different light. The singularity of these endeavors is now enhanced by the complete oneness of union. Time is no longer a process of the mind but a gift of the heart and any time away from the beloved is truely a loss of time.