There are so many times in my life when I’ve said to myself, “if only I had a few more minutes, if only I’d left earlier, if only I’d given myself more time.” The thoughts following are usually self-critical and negative, and I end up feeling deflated for a little while. The fact is, that I could have planned better, I could have managed my time differently, but really, I was just doing the best I could.
When we learn to ease up on ourselves and others and understand that we are all only doing the best we can at any given moment, we can come to see time for what it is – a human-made construct to help us organize ourselves doing. In the reality of the yogic space, the space that holds that everything impermanent is an illusion, the present moment is timeless. According to Eckart Tolle, there is nothing but the present moment. Even as I type this I hear the clock on my wall ticking and realize that both the wall and the clock are temporal–there will come a day when they are no longer there. But that’s just it, most of us live in the world of illusion, where work and meetings and school runs rely on punctuality; time from this vantage point means everything. Emotions also live in the world where time has a value; it can mean the difference between a moment of grief, tears or pain, and a moment of elation.
Last week, I was living in the shadows and not quite ready to step into the light. A few days later and I felt better. Not even a week later, and I’m feeling so well that I’m even preparing to teach my first class since the transplant. Things change, situations change, we change, all the time.
It’s easy to get attached to ideas, to routines, even to our constraints. All three things can be productive and beneficial to living in the world of doing, the world of illusion where many of us spend a large part, if not all of our days. As long as we realize that time is simply a form to create structure, as long as we stay untethered, it can be a very helpful construct. After all, without structure we have no movement, no rhythm, no sound, all of which are important to surviving in the world. Staying untethered, however, is far more challenging than we imagine, and is important to our mental and emotional survival. Breathing and meditative practices are excellent ways of detaching from ticking clocks and deadlines. So is a smile, a pat on the back and the reminder that we are all just doing the best we can. I’ve heard that setting the clocks five minutes fast without telling your partner can work too…