Limited by Time

I know at the start of this year I said no Thursday blogs but, as longtime readers know, I often make changes mid-year. This year those changes include returning the Thursday blogs but I’ll also be adding in some shorter, more highly focused single quote posts I believe you’ll find useful.

947 Relax and Succeed - Do one thing at a timeAnother thing I said at the start of this year is that I promised to write to you about time but I’ve been continually surprised at how complex it has been to study. I’ll do my best to describe to you what I’ve learned thus far because it can save you a lot of heartache. Also, as abstract and philosophical as this may sound, I would encourage you to take a literal meaning from this: this isn’t about learning about time, this is about how to live in that magical moment called Now.

Based on my observations it’s as natural for you to plot events on a timeline as it is for me not to. Of course I’ve heard the countless arguments for why I’m crazy. People point at a calendar and a clock and say, well obviously there’s time. They’ll tell me that they were at their friend’s for dinner two weeks ago and how could they do that if there wasn’t any time? Answering back with physics or some quasi-spirituality meets with very low levels of acceptance.

Let’s take that dinner at the person’s friend’s. Does it make sense that in this moment the person is remembering another moment? We are remembering the moment in which a Now became a memory. So we are replaying an old Now in the current Now. But the other now is two weeks ago someone will say. I realise that is a compelling narrative that’s believed by nearly everyone you know but that doesn’t make it right. That isn’t another time. You’re replaying a memory and you’re doing it Now. It has literally has always been Now.

947 Relax and Succeed - Don't take now so seriously

Now is before anything. Now is so pure that no matter what you’re doing while you’re Now you won’t even notice the time passing. That’s because you’re so profoundly involved with the present moment that you aren’t layering an egotistical personal narrative just slightly behind the rise of the event. In essence things happen and then we tell ourselves a story involving classification and judgment about whether we liked or disliked what unfolded.

How this effectively works is, say for instance I’m in a business meeting with another producer and they’re the leader on a film. By entering what James Carse calls the field of play I agree to function within the laws and ethics of business and to bring my best self to realising the quality of the work. If I have a passionate disagreement with the lead producer I make my case clearly, I give them an opportunity to shift emotionally, and if not then I make the case one last time. If they don’t accept it then I accept their role as the leader of the project then it’s over for me.

By “over” I mean I don’t think about it any more, I won’t hold resentments and I’ll drop that moment to be focused on whatever Now I’m currently in. So if the other producer and I had sharp words while working through the idea I wouldn’t see that as a problem they have to fix in some future Now. I wouldn’t feel they owe me an apology because I wouldn’t have thought about it at all other than while it was happening. I would have just liked how it had such passion back then.

947 Relax and Succeed - Nothing is permanentIf I’m working with people it’s because I believe they share my belief that the best business model is a good quality product and sometimes passionate debate is how you find it. I can handle someone’s passions splashing onto me personally because by the next time I meet them I’m in that Now and I react to them in many ways like I’m meeting them the first time. People change and I’m always prepared to see that change instead of my thought-form of who they were in a previous time.

Like you I will be aware of an event happening but I lose it pretty quickly because I don’t keep it alive by remembering it in subsequent Nows. In fact, since I had my accident I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a firm grasp on time now that I’ve studied it more. If it weren’t for school times, work times and the schedules of the people I lived with, I would have gotten totally time lost–as I did recently when I was working on some films and on my book. Hopefully I can turn my journey to understand time better into something that you can use to ease some of your fears and regrets.

I’ve learned I’m going to have to comprehend time in some artificial way in order to get along with the modern world but that’s just so I can enter the world’s fields of play. I cannot live there like you do because it’s so easy to see from here that that is where most of your pain arises. So I will continue to find ways to make time more conscious, but I doubt would ever even want to see time as anything more than a collective dream because that’s what it truly is.

If you didn’t sense time most of your troubles would go away and you would be very pleased to live a life that would have neither grudges nor pressure. You would still drive some people nuts by not subscribing to their dream but at least you’d have still put far more into the world than you’d have taken out. And I can tell you from experience, that’s a very enjoyable way to live.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Time Warp

916 Relax and Succeed - Nothing is more preciousHow come you guys never noticed this before? It’s interesting to me that in all of the time I have been writing not one person had ever called or written to me to ask a question about Time. This is in part undoubtedly because I’ve rarely (if ever), written about it. It’s a very large and curious omission on my part. I’m fascinated by the fact that I never noticed it at all.

To be honest I thought I would have more substantial insights to present you–and maybe these are substantial from your perspectives. But I’m surprised at how slippery this concept is for me. In the strong suspicion that it will be very beneficial to you, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about time so far.

I’m pretty sure I know why I had this realization. I was helping a client with some training in how to build a calmer work life and one of the challenges was scheduling. He would see how much work I got done and feel terrible in comparison. The comparison wasn’t helpful or useful, so I just explained how things could be structured differently.

916 Relax and Succeed - People don't realizeWe set up a highly structured calendar with alarms as each section shifted. I built one for myself in an effort toward solidarity. It always helps when you’re trying something new and scary if someone will do it with you. I’ve never minded a schedule really, so I set one up that structured the work I was already doing and a couple things I’d realized I’d missed.

Without realizing, I was teaching someone who, on a continuum, was probably the closest person to me I had ever met. The nature of being a writer on a project means you tend to be extremely busy due to working very long hours, but those hours can be worked whenever you have the most energy. This means I haven’t had to have a steady schedule since I worked in an office with others, over 10 years ago–right around the same time I had that unusual experience in Budapest.

It turned out that by using the internal corporate structure I was moving around within the framework of a calendar and clock all week long. This allowed the framework of time to extend past Now in my mind. I still knew it was a fiction, but it was often a useful one. At some point over the next couple years I literally decoupled from the artificial idea of a calendar and largely even a clock.

916 Relax and Succeed - To be in timeThis went entirely unnoticed until my brain spent about four weeks switching back and forth on a regular schedule, all thanks to the artificial calendar I built to support the client. Slowly my brain was reintegrating this idea back into my life. Then that one day I looked at my computer after feeling a bit strange, and when I saw my calendar it literally unfolded like a Jacob’s Ladder of computer monitors in each direction, adding progressively dimmer weeks on each end. It was like a part of my brain had just turned about 5 years old.

I figured out Time was artificial by about 12 years old just by using my daily meditations to understand where things came from. It just never occurred to me that I could lose touch with it if I didn’t voluntarily subscribe to it to a fairly regular degree. And then I remembered: that’s what I teach you guys all the time; if you don’t do a thing your brain won’t be very good at doing it. And yes, this definitely applies to Time.

So Time isn’t a thing it’s a measuring device you place over… space-time (let’s save that for another time). So it’s like you’re a flashlight and you’re pointed down at a giant measuring tape. This tape goes on forever. A busy-minded person has their light a long way from the tape, and so they’re always taking a lot of time into account, and that’s what makes them sad or angry or anxious.

I am someone who lives very close to Now. So my light is so close to the measuring tape that it doesn’t even really see that thing in front of me as a measuring tape. I’m close enough to be able to see the thing it’s measuring: moment by moment life. So I’m not looking at the tape, I’m taking in life. This is called presence.

916 Relax and Succeed - Let go or be draggedAnxious people are a long way from experiencing direct reality through presence. They tilt their light toward a future they unhelpfully illuminate. They tell themselves stories about what might happen, about what could happen, or even should happen. Meanwhile depressed people tilt their light backwards on the measuring tape, always reassessing what has already taken place in time. By focusing the light of their consciousness on the past, they hope to somehow create a different past would lead to a different them in different circumstances. That act of perpetual wishing steals most of their own strength in an innocent but meaningless attempt to fix something that has already happened.

I still do have to figure out how to live a little bit deeper in Time than I’m currently able, and I’m working on exercises to help with that. At the same time, I’m here to help you realize more mental, emotional and spiritual health, and so it would do you a lot of good to become a lot more like me and focus on Now, rather than all of these other past or potential times.

Look at your own life and get more conscious about where your mind is really at. Because your body and your eyeballs being somewhere means little if you’re mind is somewhere or somewhen else. Now might be presenting a few challenges for me, but I’m very confident they’re not as difficult and unpleasant as those that are generated by living too deeply within the very limiting construct of Time. 

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.