It astonishes me how despite all the time-saving technologies we have at our disposal, from digital calendars to robotic assistance, we still feel pressed for time.
‘I don’t have the time,’ is something I hear a lot from people who, say, need to make a lifestyle adjustment to improve their health, be it exercising more or eating better quality food. Time is a problem; but maybe that is exactly where we are all going wrong. Is time actually ours to have? To own? To control in the first place?
To claim we ‘have’ time, ‘control’ time and ‘manage’ time sounds borderline arrogant to me. Time was there before we were born and will be there long after we are gone. Yes, we can control it to a degree by planning and making good decisions based on our goals and objectives, but as an entirety, time is not ours to boss around.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. Most of us today only deal with time in accordance with chronos, which is where the word chronological comes from. This is linear time that always seems to be pushing
forward, waiting for no man, woman or child. This is the concept that calendars, schedules, and time-counting methods stem from. Chronos is measurable and quantitative.
To truly understand the concept of time we must see it as a whole, and this is where the second Greek word comes in. Kairos means the ‘right, critical or opportune’ moment. Historically, the term was used in archery to describe the right instant to release the arrow from the bow to hit a target, not too early and not too late – the perfect moment, if you will. Kairos by its very nature is a brief opportunity or opening in time that allows for extraordinary things to happen. If we hesitate a second too long the golden opportunity is gone.
Kairos is qualitative, a magical time within a time. It’s where all your life lessons and developed skills may be called upon in an instant, where you are awakened to your true self and the place you have in this world. It’s a gap that occurs mystically and one must be humble enough to understand and respect it.
Although many things in our modern world are achieved chronologically, it’s kairos that produces the imagination that makes everything happen, and in so doing shifts the whole of time. All the inventions, original art works, literature,
creative ideas come from this moment. It’s a splitting of the river of time that allows past, present and future to be made available at the same moment.
How do you split open time? By doing what you love and being truly at the core of your being. In Arabic we have a saying, ‘Time is like a sword; if you don’t cut it, it will cut you.’ By that I understand that we must use the ‘sword’ of what we love, who we truly are and what we are intended to be, to cut time open so that we may be blessed to feel and operate in that timeless gap that is kairos.
Once upon a time, before the dominance of the notion that ‘time is money’, when things were not so trapped by time, the connection humans had to the timelessness of life was more common. Our parents and grandparents were more in touch with it. For example, when important decisions had to be made many meetings and gatherings would occur before. Often, they thought of how their decisions would affect several generations down the line, after they themselves were long gone and buried. This is a far cry from many current decision-making processes that are at best tailored to a single election term or fiscal cycle.
We have all had moments in our lives when we were touched by timelessness – being with someone we love, or doing something that makes us truly happy. For me it’s when I am writing. I start to type during the day, and next thing I know its dark outside. For others it’s when they are performing a sport, cooking, or walking their dog. We each have access to this timeless gift as we are in essence timeless beings. When we enter karios we are stepping closer to our very nature. To live a life without experiencing our unique nature, without knowing, feeling and being what we truly are, is a life not fully lived.
Have a timeless Friday everyone.