Contrary to prevailing beliefs, becoming a sage or a doyenne is not a goal or aspiration; it is a phenomenon. If we seek it, we will not find it; if we lay claim to it, we lose it. For if you were to arrive there, cast away by the tempest of life, you would find it a journey in the abstract, a place not found on any map, a still point in time…perhaps a quantum of eternity.
We are chastened by time as a sanction. There is never enough time; we are running out of time, so we must steal time. This undergirds the axiom, time is money. When we have enough money, we’ll have all the time in the world. It is much like chasing our shadow as a kid. We are cultured into thinking of time as a quantity; which is seemingly inexhaustible to the young and a savage shortage to the old. I’m not sure that we regard time in its quality.
Time, I have learned, is beguiled by our measurements, for time is immutably perception. A few years ago, in a curious attempt to escape the bindings of time as a student and writer, I chose an experiment against the measure of time. For more than 24 hours, I gave minimal attention to my paradoxical devices of productivity and took no notice of chronological time. This little curiosity surprised me. I experienced the day without an awareness of synchronized passage and began to notice a perception of time and a releasing of my creative flow. I entered a different realm of time that did not create anxiousness over how much time remained, as the focus was not on time at all, only experience. I became lost in my reading, my conversations, my writing, my thoughts, my walks, and bicycle route. I ate when I felt hungry. I woke up when my body was ready, and prepared for sleep as twilight and fatigue descended. The exercise persuaded me that time’s sincerity is issued by experience, not by linear calculation. Had time been running me?
Living in timelessness takes us away from aging and sets us on a path that Ram Dass coined “saging.” I believe, perhaps somewhere in a series of moments, we become without notice our unmeasured selves. That is where the sage or doyenne seem to live, in that place where we let go of our superfluous certainties of knowing.
If there is a return to youth, I suggest it is a second order of youth, an informed and quintessential youthfulness where we are guided by our playful curiosity and tutored by wonder. The body and brain age, but the mind holds within it an eternal youth.
I have invited clients, who have sought guidance, to pursue a path to experiencing their timeless selves. Many have been reoriented in the re-enchantment of time and the candid connection to themselves as time transitioned from a devouring measure to an experience. Moving from measure to experience can establish a different context with the world. For measurement represents a kind of perfection, like time-keeping and experience a kind of wholeness, like keeping time.
At Arbor Family Counseling, we work with individuals, couples, and families in the daunting measurements of perfection that tax our resolve and induce anxiety. Anxiety takes us out of the moment of timelessness and demands our attention to an unlived and fictitious moment. Timelessness is the present moment; timelessness is youthful; timelessness is a quantum of eternity.
Perhaps this thought has captured you in the moment. I hope you lost yourself in a quantum of reflection. Now go forth and negotiate the next moment. It holds just as much promise.
Originally Published as “Practicing Eternity” by Steve Thomas, fireflyhorizons.com