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A spacious perspective on time
Q: Does taking a long view of time change things?
On a walk with Mitali earlier this week we decided to write about time and what it means to take the long view. We had both listened to the third episode of Krista Tippett’s On Being Foundation series which was an exploration of how time works, how change happens and how taking a long view of time has a power to replenish our sense of ourselves and the world.
Yesterday, after my meetings and before leaving the office for home I typed out about 200 words for our weekly post. I was proud of myself for actually sitting down to write after a day of back-to-back meetings instead of rushing home. Except at night when I reread what I had written it didn’t feel true. Or rather it didn’t feel current. I had written about things I had wanted back in 2015…the big things - a home, a marriage, a child. And how when I had wanted those things, I had felt so hopeless and alone - when the countless dates I went on amounted to nothing. But over the course of five years, those things that I had desired so intensely happened. I found love, we created a home, and most important of all little A arrived into our universe. Had I been able to take a long view of time back then, it would have given my 2015 self a sense of profound relief and ease.
“The ancient Greeks had two very different words for time. One is Kronos, and that is time as we feel it in our bodies and in our lives, and have tried to organize our world around. That is the stuff of clocks and calendars, time as we can measure and plan and really want to rely on as kind of an arrow that’s always moving forward.
And then there is Kairos time. This is an inbreaking — a moment that disrupts everything that came before, everything you thought you knew…Kairos moments are these pivot points when the questions you are asking, holding, living, utterly change. Life is suddenly, unalterably defined, separated into a Before and an After.”
- Krista Tippett
So the question really is what about my current self? What are the ways in which taking a long view can help me today? Earlier this year when I was feeling burnt out, I dreamt of taking time off. Now I know that it isn’t time for that just yet. There is work I need to do before I am ready to quit and take an entire year off. I also feel more driven at this moment to work, to create, to show up. But in the next five years? In the next five years, I do hope to move in the direction of taking time off, living in a place with a view of the vast sky, going beyond a 9 to 5, and creating and writing more. Saying that aloud, or in this case, writing it out is already giving me a sense of deep peace.
Life unfolds the way it’s supposed to. For now, I can look at the direction I want to move towards while being grounded and establishing roots in the place I am. The roots I am putting down are patience, trust, and hard work. I want this post to serve as a reminder to myself on those days when I feel like I’m not making any progress and am down about it. For I know those days will come, they always do. All we can do is watch and let them pass and continue to take those baby steps in the direction we set for ourselves.
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Earlier this year I set myself the deadline of figuring out my new business idea by June. But June came and went and I got busy with kids' summer activities and travel. And somewhere along the way, over the summer, I realized that the timeline that I had set for myself was false.
I was used to working towards goals. I spent 15 years at a company writing quarterly OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for myself and my team and using it as a way to drive progress. But I realized that these fake deadlines that I was giving myself were instead producing stress. Anxiety about not nailing down an idea soon enough. Self judgment on my ability to execute fast. And being in this state of mind was not fertile ground for new ideas to emerge.
So instead I decided to take away the element of time from my process. I got comfortable with wasting time. Meeting a friend for a long chat over tea in the middle of the day, driving 20 miles to meet someone new for lunch, spending a morning reading my book and listening to the rain. I engaged in conversations with strangers about looking for signs and pursuing things that brought me joy. I reminded myself of my intention to act with equanimity this year. To operate from a place of ease and calm. And I started to trust in the process. I began to think more about my state of being instead of judging myself by what I was doing.
I realized that I was operating from a long view on time. I wanted to do something impactful but I was not in a rush. I wasn't aiming to be on any “Top 40 under 40” list - I was past 40 anyway. Embracing an abundance mindset - a belief that there is an infinite amount of time available to me and endless opportunities ahead of me - took the pressure off. And I started to stretch into the spaciousness of the current moment.
"An abundance mindset operates on the foundational belief that there is an infinite amount of something available to you, despite any other circumstances. With this mindset, you genuinely believe and trust that there are endless opportunities, time, resources, money, and love that are possible to have."
- Jessica Estrada, How Cultivating an "Abundance Mindset" Can Change Your Life