Posts Tagged ‘“Time Goes By”’

Downside, Upside

June 21, 2015


Nearly fifteen years of drought in my northeastern corner of NM have not come to an end – but this spring into summer we have had rain, almost daily, steady and hard at times, short and sharp at others. More days have been cloudy, foggy and cool than the dry, windy and sunny we’ve become accustomed to enduring since 2000. Forestry signs indicating level of fire danger are in the lower yellow – moderate – range instead of the screaming fire engine red of extreme.

Ranchers are running larger numbers of cattle, and those herds are lazing about in lush greenery up to their bellies. Horses are grazing fat, and antelope scattered among the domestic herds are too somnolent to come check out, as in their more normally inquisitive fashion, the curiosity of a person walking nearby and waving a hat. I give up waving, and continue my way, remembering the morning I woke from a sleep-out under the stars, a ring of antelope surrounding me. Not this bunch – too lazy.

The rainy dampness and chill have greatly delayed me in initiating my outdoor walking routine. A rural dirt lane a few miles from my house has become my normal exercise site – a mile and a half round trip the standard, easily extended to two miles or executed in every shorter times, according to my increasing stamina. By this time last year I was already well seasoned and doing two miles in half an hour. Today, it took me the half hour to just go a mile and a half.

The delay in getting up to speed is partly due to rain, and partly due to my own reluctance to switch to early morning walking. It’s been my habit to finish my work day and then walk – and that habit had years to become set, as the drought mandated waiting until the cooler temperatures of evening made walking a pleasure. I’ve become accustomed to the evening walk as a way to wind down from work, to quiet my mind and prepare for evening chores and rest.

Back in the 1990s, when last we had wet summers, I practiced a different routine. Then my exercise was riding my horses and I knew the activity had to be completed before midday, if at all. Our then typical summer pattern was bright sun and light breeze until about noon, when huge white cumulus clouds would build up and move in from the west, to collect and darken and dump rain in the afternoon, often lasting into the night.

That pattern has, this year, established itself once more. For several months now, by the time my work day is done, the sky is totally overcast, the air is thick and wet, the ground is sodden and more rain threatens/promises to fill the night. No way to walk outside and unwind from the stresses of the day.

Ronni Bennett, who blogs on elder issues at Time Goes By, Time Goes By recently posted about habits – in her case the habit of ordering her coffee from New York because that is easier than going through the process of trial and error to find a blend, where she now lives in Seattle, that satisfies her as much as her long-enjoyed standard.Ronni makes the important distinction between habit and addiction and reminds readers that, while addiction is a serious problem, habit most certainly is not. Indeed, we cannot survive without habits. How exhausting to have to go through a day thinking out each step of all the cleanliness routines, the household chores, the mechanical skills on which we rely! Habit only becomes a problem (still not as serious as addiction) when we become locked into patterns and resist change.

Like my recognized delay in adapting to the changed weather by switching my walks from evening to morning. I’ve started the process (today was my second morning outing) and expect that by week’s end I will have a new habit pattern in place. I will not, however, have made up for the month’s delay in building my endurance and speed over my usual trekking path.

Even in drought, walking in the evening meant wearing long sleeves and lots of bug repellant. Now, in the wet, walking at night is truly not safe (West Nile Virus is here). Fortunately, I do not seem to need excessive protection in the early morning. Perhaps the mosquitos, so very much more prevalent at night than they were last year, have also not made a change of habit to morning activity?

Walking in the early morning feels self-indulgent, like I’m doing something purely pleasurable BEFORE meeting my obligations to my family or to my employer. Why is it that I feel I’m only entitled to do something for myself after other responsibilities have been met? I work from home, am supposed to put in a “normal” work day/week but the demands of the job do not allow me to take lunch hours, the day never ends before 6 or 7 P.M. and only rarely do I have an entire weekend off. Why, then, am I still pushing myself to start promptly at 8 A.M., as though I were clocking into an office assignment?

Tomorrow, a Monday, I intend to walk as the start to my day. Probably that means I won’t turn on my work computer until 8:30. Almost certainly I’ll feel a bit guilty, but I’m counting on that habit, also, being changed by the end of the week. Morning walks, better energy and also, almost certainly, better concentration are my new habit priorities. This older dog IS learning new tricks.

Illusory Time

June 9, 2014

We’ve all heard that time and space are illusions, that love can bridge both and eradicate them. But how many of us have actually experienced the collapse of space or time?

I’ve had inklings of what it is like to deny space, most notably when I’ve been conducting multiple chats on Facebook with friends scattered around the world – connected simultaneously to Singapore and Norway, for example. But time has, until recently, remained rather solidly real. Oh, I’ve lost myself in contemplation, or in an activity, and – as we say – lost track of time. That experience has always ended with a solid thump back into awareness of time as a sequence, a flow that inexorably carries on while I’ve been doing other things. You know – “life is what happens while your attention is elsewhere.”

Lately, I’ve been gifted to experience a different sense of escaping the constraints of time – or rather, to begin to understand in a very profound way that time is indeed an illusion, a habit of mind that one can shed. My spiritual practice has triggered recognition of a number of mental lies, beliefs conditioned into me from various sources – parents, society, misinterpreted experience, self-doubt. One by one these falsities have shown their color, and I’ve been freed of their constraints. Several have to do with my perception of myself, and possibly do not have general application. The most recent, however, has to do with time and is certainly widely relevant.

I follow a couple of blogs which focus on aging – Time Goes By Time Goes By, and Aging Abundantly. It is important that there be a voice for older people, and even though I don’t always agree with these two, nor do they agree with one another, both writers present the experience of growing older and both confront and counter stereotypes that we all meet daily. They are rooted, however, in an acceptance that time passes and that we are necessarily caught within time’s reality.

I am learning to exist in a different reality. Focused on what I am doing in the present moment, time does not exist. Only when I choose to give my attention to something that happened in an earlier phase of my life – and only if I choose to consider the event in the context of “its” time – does time exist once more. If I instead immerse myself in the event as though it is a present happening, time vanishes.

As children we have all certainly been admonished to “act your age”. As adults, we mark milestones of age (legal drinking age, “the big five-oh”) and measure our accomplishments against some yardstick of what we should have achieved by this or that age. Retirement looms, eligibility for “senior” discounts, a host of societal norms that impose on us the supposed reality of time.

I remember my first encounter with a different concept of time. It was an effort to explain a Pueblo Indian concept that time is not a sequence, but a set of different present moments. The teacher described sausages tied together into a circle. The tribe lives within one sausage/season/period at a time. It is planting season until the circle rotates, and then they are living within the season of summer rain. Another rotation places them within the season of maturing corn. During each season, attention is fully devoted to the activities of that manner of being.

Since plunging into my new job, and a new relationship, I am interacting with various people in very vivid and engaging ways. I find myself so intensely focused on each present demand for my attention that my only awareness is of the activities I’m completing, and the people for whom I am completing them.

It was a shock, yesterday, to realize that 2014 is almost one half done!

I write dates daily, but their only meaning has been a set of numbers that identify a document which I may need to retrieve from my hard drive. My days are defined by who I will see, where I will find them, whether my computer will cooperate with the necessary data entry, and how I relax from work.

My interactions are an exchange between equals, whether co-workers or members of my social network. If I take a conscious step back into the time continuum, I recognize that all these people are chronologically younger – often much younger – than I am. Little about my days allows or enables me to take that conscious step back. Quite the contrary. As a result, I go days, weeks – lately months – living in a continuing present tense, being whatever age matches those with whom I engage, feeling essentially ageless and outside of time altogether.

What a marvelous sense of freedom results from this existence outside time!

Now if I can just figure out how to similarly collapse space, in order to be at once in the several different countries I still want to visit…

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