This time of year some of us are not too happy with the number staring back at us on the bathroom scale when we step on it on the morning. We might wish it were less. But none of us would likely say that we want our weight to be twice what it is, or even half again as much. The thought never enters our minds, as we are rational about the amount of space that our bodies occupy. We understand the appropriateness of limits in space for ourselves without even giving it a moment’s thought.
 
It is different with time.
 
It is only human to wish for more time in our lives. If asked if we could live longer with a good quality of life we would almost always respond in the affirmative. And we would probably wish for substantially more time, many years. And when the end of that time finally arrived, we would likely wish for a little more, then a little more after that, wanting to play the tortoise in Zeno’s paradox, defeating death in ever-diminishing amounts of time.
 
Why should we accept the limits of space but not of time? For time and space are as the metes and bounds of all things. We accept the limit of the one and are undone by the limit of the other. Perhaps there is some clue in the different way we view past, present and future time. We wish for more time in the future, more time to come. The past is unimportant, only the future matters. But the great ones, the mystics, philosophers and teachers who know, tell us that only the present moment is real. If we could recognize that all the present moments of time past were each and every one eternal, and even now lie outside the arrow of time, still vertically bisecting the chronology of one’s life, would that not then be enough time? More than enough, I think.
 
But I wonder if this might only be true for those past moments where one was awake enough to experience that moment as fully present. if so, then the task becomes clear. To live one’s life with an awareness in the moment, not only for that moment, but so that the sum total of one’s life may become more and more a song well sung, gaining in harmony as the years unroll, so that age does not diminish but instead increases the beauty of one’s life. To have known such a person is then a cause for joy at the time of their passing. Sorrow, yes, of course, but also joy in having witnessed the deepening beauty of a life well lived, a life gaining in harmony and insight through the years of that life. And, as for oneself, what better reminder than such a person, whose memory might call one to the task at hand this very moment.
 
Or say that the end precedes the beginning, 
And the end and the beginning were always there before the beginning and after the end. And all is always now.
     —T.S. Eliot
 
Best wishes for 2020

 

 
 

6 Comments

  1. How perfect to read this morning; I am hosting a grief circle this evening for women experiencing loss and I’ll be bringing your words with me, to the center. The center holds us all. Yesterday, I was hurrying, believing I couldn’t get everything done. Then I stopped to walk in my favorite patch of woods and the trees bade me to stop, to be present, to allow them to enter my busy head space full of senseless thoughts. How easily I forget to simply be rather than focus on what’s expected of me. The shift was made. Thanks for the inspiration this morning.

  2. Patti, I am touched that you wish to share the post with your companions. I hope it is a help tonight for everyone in some small way. You are most welcome, as always.

  3. When I concentrate on the moment, trying to sense the notes of that moment, I hear my other self, so to speak, calling me to pick up the book I was reading to discover the next element of the plot; or reminding myself of a report I agreed to do for someone; or . . .
    If I could just concentrate on the moment, relish it, experience it, perhaps my song would result in a symphony. But will I ever find the second note and go beyond?

  4. You describe the human condition exactly, Mitzi. Our mind never wishes to be in the present, nor in the space we are in. To be still this moment, now, it is our work. Thank you for your reminder.

  5. I’m caretaking an infant,5 months if age. With her there is no time but now. She is a very good teacher. Her joy, her hunger, her laugh becomes mine.

  6. Ahhh, the real teacher emerges. So much to learn from such a teacher! Be well, Karen

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