Friday, October 7, 2016

lessons on fishing (and time) ...

[F]or me, philosophically, stress is a perverted relationship to time. So that rather than being a subject of your own time, you have become its target and victim, and time has become routine. So at the end of the day, you probably haven't had a true moment for yourself. And you know, to relax in and to just be. 
- John O'Donohue, interview in On Being (transcript here)

The first time I heard those words, I had to stop what I was doing (yes, multitasking), sit down, rewind (so-to-speak) the audio and listen closely.

[O]ne of the huge difficulties in modern life is the way time has become the enemy. (John O'Donohue)

I believe I have been shadow boxing Time for much of my adult life.  It's a slippery eel; the more I try to extract myself from a sense of being caught up in the net of time  -- rushing, running late, arriving breathless, wringing my hands at all I have to pack into one slim suitcase of time -- the more entangled I become.

To be conscious is not to be in time ... (T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

I totally agree with Eliot ...  but how to live in this modern world of school bus schedules, trash days, tax days, monthly bills and all AND to live in what an art teacher of mine once referred to as Medieval Time (absorbed, suspended within and outside of Time)?

Only through time time is conquered. (T.S. Eliot)

I'm not sure I want to conquer time so much as befriend it? It dawned on me that my frantic relationship with Time is part of a larger and deeply rooted anxiety. "Not enough-ness." It isn't so much Time fudging around with me as much as modern society perverting Time by turning it into a commodity. What is my time worth? You are wasting my time!  Words I've even heard my Girl parrot (from whom? Gulp.) 

I don't want Time as an enemy. I want to understand its deeper magic, the alchemical potential hinted at by O'Donohue when he writes "Possibility is the secret heart of time. On its outer surface time is vulnerable to transience. In its deeper heart, time is transfiguration." (Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)

This student is more than ready ... and finally (it's about time?!) my teacher stepped forward:

Or rather, she perched forward.

For the past few weeks I have gone to the park for a walk and discovered Heron on the edges of the shore fishing.  The immediate lesson Great Blue Heron offers is that of patience. If you want to see Heron doing anything other than standing still like a avian manikin, you had better be prepared to wait. And watch. Abandon any notion of a quick walk and surrender to becoming like Heron by standing still. Looking  and waiting. 

Would say there is a fair helping of trust involved except doubt probably never enters into the heron's mind.  Now, I find myself doubting often ... getting antsy with the suspension of my walk (wasting my time?) but there is that delicious moment when an inner stubbornness wins and with a sigh I adjust my posture and settle in for the wait.

So far, I've always been rewarded.

Or rather, Heron is always rewarded for her patience, her commitment, her deep knowing This Is What I Do.  

Watching her the other day, I realized I often bemoan "Why is it taking me so long?"  The It varies - my understanding, my knowing, mastery of a skill, completion of a project or process, my finding My Way, flashing upon My Purpose - the list is long but the vibe is always that of me out of sync with some mythical timeline. I ought to be further along. I ought to have this all figured out by now.

Yeah. Right-o. 

It struck me that when I am fully absorbed and committed ... like Heron, focused upon the water that will surely yield a fish later or sooner ... I am suspended within the flow of time but not constricted by it. When I tantrum and feel the squeeze of Time -- this is taking me too long! -- then I am not fully in. I am distracting myself. I am turning outward when the call is to go in. Time  - or a fixation upon time and time keeping - is my means of side-stepping the depth diving. I don't have the time and it is taking too long.

So maybe, just maybe my frustration with time is a clue that I hiding out on the surface of time, swinging on the clock face when in fact time offers me a portal to dive deeper within. 

I know Heron's deeper teaching will be both a lesson and a surrender to time. Showing up, abiding, paying close attention, and most of all knowing when to act ...

and knowing when to stay in stillness.