Synchronize Your Watches: Living Successfully with Father Time

Do you feel as if everyday is just a repeat of the same old routine? Maybe life is just a series of getting through one mundane event in order to get to the next. You’re rested but just plain bored. Or, maybe you feel too overwhelmed, like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Maybe there’s too much excitement in your life, leaving no time to relax and enjoy. Maybe there’s a way to have balance, a way for peace and excitement to coexist.

Time is a difficult concept to pin down and describe, but we can pretty much all agree about certain things associated with its passage. Time gives us feelings of progress and movement. Time is elusive and irreversible. We can easily go into the future, but we cannot go into the past. We can change the future, but we cannot change the past. The passage of time is something we all experience daily. Either we’re stressed and anxious, feeling as if we don’t have enough time, or we’re bored and depressed with seemingly too much time on our hands.

Although measured by nature’s rotations and intervals, time perception is a mendable construct of the human mind. Certain conditions can cause distortions in the perception of time. The use of stimulants can make time speed up. Feelings of awe or fear can make time seem to go by faster. Depression can make time drag on slowly. Body temperature can even affect the perception of time’s passing. Time speeds by as we age, but for children, time seems to go on forever. Since the passage of time is based upon perception, it is possible to alter that view and alleviate some of that stress and depression.

Different cultures over different periods of time have held differing views on time-

Cyclical Time is all about traditions of the past. When you think of cyclical time, Native American and Asian cultures tend to come to mind, or maybe even something akin to old style New England. Also known as seasonal time, the cyclical view is based on the physical world. A world with no end, just repetitive cycles of life, death and rebirth, all occurring in predictable patterns. Like with the seasons for farming, there is a prescribed order to everything, and humans must react to and harmonize with this order. Humans are controlled by the cycles, but due to these patterns, time is plentiful and opportunities are recurring. Decisions are made for the long-term benefit of future generations. Within the cyclical view of time, people accept the past, respect tradition and rely on their instinct.

On the other hand, Linear Time is all about the opportunities that the future holds. When you think of linear time, think of the American dream- heading out west, hoping to find gold and strike it rich. You can also recall the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock or Christopher Columbus setting out to discover a new world. In what is also called monochronistic time, in linear time, patterns and cycles are unimportant because time progresses in a straight line, from start to finish. Rather than relying upon seasons and weather patterns, those who hold by the linear time view go by what the clock says.

In a linear time line, there is a clear beginning to this world as well as an end, so time is a limited and rare commodity. The schedule is a race against the clock to get as much accomplished as possible, and the agenda must be tightly controlled. There is not a second to spare nor are there second chances. Since opportunities only come once in this one lifetime, decisions must be made quickly, for short term and immediate gains. Abiding by the linear time frame means that you don’t worry about the past, only the future. It is a sacred world where every day is a new day and novelty is the key ingredient to happiness. Risk is the rule, and life is a series of chaotic random occurrences with no real order. It’s like the Wild West with each for himself, relying on intuition, always seeking out more of those rare and valuable opportunities.

But there’s another way. Flexible Time is all about people and the present. Time revolves, not around seasons or opportunities, but around the people in our present daily lives. Think of South America or Southern Europe with doses of American southern hospitality and mid-western practicality. The flexible time view contends that ours is a human world based on family and friends. With flexible time, also called polychronistic time, you can forget the seasons and the clock because this is social time based on a social calendar. Flexible time means that it’s perfectly acceptable to mix business with pleasure because multi-tasking just makes you more efficient, enabling you to spend more time with family and associates.

You can be cognizant of the repetitive cycles of the past and of the perpetual forward momentum of the future but with a different perspective. Flexible time allows you to recognize the circular patterns of the past as they appear within the linear continuum of the future. In other words, you are free to pay attention to the here and now, the present, along with the people who are present in your life. It’s all about learning from the past and using free-will to create a better future. Although you aren’t controlled by time, you still realize that you can’t control all circumstances. Instead, you control yourself within the context of the current situation. You don’t control the clock, rather you manage your own time. Living on a flexible timeline means that you control what you can, not worrying about past and future things you can’t control. You develop an awareness that things have progressed as necessary along with a conscious present faith that things will work out for the best in the future.

Reasons to live in the PRESENT:

  • Action and creation can only take place in the present
  • Living in the present allows us the opportunity to reframe and apply the learning of past to future possibilities
  • Living in the present allows for creating a future based upon reality, the here and now
  • Living in the present allows for multitasking, lending itself to flexibility and efficiency
  • Living in the present builds relationships
  • Living in the future is for dreamers, no one can predict the future
  • Living in the past is for nostalgists, no one can return to or change the past
  • Living in the present leads to worthwhile practical action, not fanciful dreaming or reminiscing
  • Living in the present means living with faith and acceptance, not worrying about the future or fretting over the past
  • Living in the present means that since you cannot alter the past or predict the future, you don’t have to control time, you only have to control yourself
  • Living in the present (flexible time) recognizes forces outside of human control (cyclical time, the past) and forces within human control (linear time, the future)
“Accept, then act, whatever the present moment contains, embrace it as if you had chosen it. This will miraculously change your whole life.” – Eckhart Tolle

Occurring in less than the blink of an eye, the present is merely a pinpoint in the fabric of time. With seemingly no beginning and no ending, the “present” is perpetual, yet can only exist in relation to the past and the future. We shape the future from what we’ve learned in the past, but the present is actuality, our reality. The present is truly where our power lies. The present binds the past and future together in action and creation. In the present, we can focus on what we can control and with faith, allow fate to handle the rest. It seems as if it’s part of our impatient human nature to want to force things to happen. Of course being a go-getter isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes we just don’t have a choice but to sit back and let events occur naturally, on father time’s schedule. We each created our own present reality. We must learn to balance past traditions and future opportunities with faith in today’s free-will.

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