Precious Time, Episode 78 of Turning Towards Life
Here’s Episode 78 of Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by thirdspace coaching in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living.
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In this episode we talk about the mystery of time and death. We consider together two different ways that we turn away from the reality of time – either by tuning out from the fleeting nature of things and the urgency of our response, or by eating up time in a panicked flurry of frantic activity. Somewhere between the two, we discover, is a way in which we can meet time more directly, more lovingly, and in a more responsive way – and in a way that helps us both decide what matters and invest our activities with mattering.
Along the way we talk about the changes that time brings, in our bodies and the bodies of others; the mystery of where time ‘goes’ when it has ‘gone’, and we bring to mind those we have known and have loved who are no longer with us and find out that they are still present, in time, even though they are no longer here. And it occurs to us that this is the nature not only of people but of all moments that continually arise, disappear, and yet travel with us.
During the conversation Justin shows a ‘Lojong’ card he’s made to support his own inquiry and practice, which we’re reproducing below:
Here’s our source, by Norman Fischer:
On Time and Death
Most of us somehow believe that we are the sole exception to the otherwise universal rule that all living creatures die… [But] it’s thanks to death that we can cross over from one moment to the next. If this moment doesn’t die, totally disappearing, we can’t have the next moment. So loss and death are facts of life every moment…
One day a moment will come like all others but different in one respect: it will not be succeeded by another moment… Most of us believe we don’t have to worry about this moment because death comes in old age, and since we are not now so old, it’s not a problem for us. But death doesn’t come only in old age, it comes at any age, and nobody knows when. And even if it were to come in old age, old age comes much more quickly than you thought it would: you were young, you blinked your eyes, thirty or forty years flew by, and now you are no longer young. How did that happen all of a sudden?
Lived time is not uniform and fixed. It is not a substance measured evenly by clocks. In fact, time is subjective. As you grow older, time speeds up. To an infant, a day or a week is an eternity… to a child beginning summer vacation, the two or three months ahead seem endless… But the older you get, the shorter a month gets. To a middle-aged person, five years goes by rather quickly. Time actually speeds up with age and the accumulation of lived experience. This means that if you are thirty, your life is much more than a third gone: it is maybe 80 percent gone. If you are fifty, is it 95 percent gone. There’s not nearly as much time left as you thought there was. This is a serious problem, and it’s a problem now, not later. We ought to recognize that we are in an urgent situation. We have much less time left than we thought, and we have no idea when our lives will end, so it is important that right now we turn our attention to what really matters, that we don’t waste time.
by Norman Fischer, from Training in Compassion