Actual time is a fact. It's contained fully in the present moment. It doesn't direct us in any way and, with its simplified self, moves along at a consistent and measurable pace. Storyline time, on the other hand, is directly connected to the story of us and the forward motion that most of us have in our approach to life. It's the back story of why we rush through things, task master the objects in front of us, and seek to gain control of our experience. We're moving forward out of this ever-present moment into anticipation of the next moment, spending little time here and now.
Storyline time prevails when we are searching for joy and happiness outside of this moment. We think that it is somewhere else. There may be an uncomfortableness here and now, an aspect of grief or sadness, an emotion of dissatisfaction that is searching for harmony. Instead of residing in the Now to reconcile that, we unconsciously search for this freedom in the next moment, feeding a habit of striving that leaves us even more unfulfilled.
Take a look at how you receive each moment of the day. From observation of my own experience, I feel like I'm under an invisible time pressure much of the day. Even though I'm great at calendaring and leaving space, there's still an essence of this push to get things done and onto the next. As a business owner, there are many details that I need to attend to and that involve planning future events in order to maintain a consistent level of business activity.
The continual calendaring of my day, however, brings about a momentum of moving from one activity to the other that can be challenging to stop. The dribble of "after I get these things done..." is a common quote I can replay over and over in my mind when it's time to settle down and really take a break, to stop the locomotion of doing and let go into pure being, a being that goes well beyond the body stopping. The result is a relationship to time that can be scattered, shattered, and multidirectional with an element of dissatisfaction to what is right now. And underneath this striving can be a level of fear, unworthiness, agitation, and a general sense of joylessness.
This isn't to say that planning and taking care of things isn't important but it begs me to notice how much time and mental effort is spent in the subtle search for happiness. Even with an active mindfulness practice, staying here and not escaping into Doing can be challenging. Fortunately my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh so eloquently reminds me with this quote above which is so true. Stopping to be right here, it is possible to live happily in each moment and still get things done. It all rests on the attention and intention I am placing in the moment, reverting from getting caught up in my own story and the master manipulation of my experience.
Time is as it is. All the rest is just a mental construct. Time is something that we can't get back, no matter how much we try. As I continue to age, this becomes more prevalent in my consciousness. Perhaps this has added to my sense of rushing. I seek to have so much peace, love, and harmony in my life and, instead of seeing that it's right here right now, I am being pulled by my habit energies to seek it out. Look, look, though! In the mirror resides all that I need and, when this is my footing, I can walk safely into whatever arrives next.
Yup, and that's why we call it "practice". Simple but certainly not easy!
Mindfulness & Stress Management Coach
Eden Energy Medicine Certified Practitioner
8 limbs Holistic Health, LLC