Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"I Don't Feel Tardy:" Kairos vs. Chronos -- Experiencing Time

Lessons Learned in High School:  Teachers do not think it's funny when you look down at your hands while looking confused and saying, "Funny. I don't feel tardy."

It seems appropriate that, in this season of honoring the dead, that I speak to you about the concept of time.

All my life, I've had this experience of time as fluid. I bet you have, too, you just maybe haven't thought of the words to explain it. What I'm talking about is how, when you're having fun, time just seems to fly by. And, when you're at work, time can just drag on and on and 30 minutes seems like for-freaking-ever!

Maybe this is one reason why I've never been cut out for the 8-5 work schedule that the entire rest of the world seems to operate on. I worked as a temp in the office sector for a while and on those days when things are just dragging so slow, I couldn't bring myself to do anything but answer the phone. Oh, all those hours I spent just trying to look like I was doing something so my bosses would leave me alone. How I'd love to have all those hours back, now, to use as I live, now. I mean sure, I made money, but I was also just wasting my and my employers' time. I was very ingenious at finding ways to do nothing, while still looking like the diligent employee I was expected to be. 

In short, no one was getting what they wanted.

Awhile ago, I read something in Jung  regarding different kinds of time. Namely, Kairos versus Chronos. Chronos is the concept we're most familiar with. Chronos is clock time. This is an example of living by clock time: I get up at 6:30 am so I can eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, drive and be at work by 8am. At 10 am, I get a 15 minute break in which I have time to pee, grab a soda and have a cigarette. At noon, I get an hour lunch where I have 30 minutes to eat and 30 minutes to dream about what I'm going to do when I get out of this hell-hole. And so on and so forth. 

Chronos tells us that we eat at noon because that's when we have to eat. We go to bed by 10 pm, so we can get enough sleep so we won't be falling on our faces at work the next day. With Chronos, all sorts of things can throw our day out of whack. A wreck on the highway makes us late to work which gets us yelled at. A bout of insomnia makes us useless after 2 pm the next day, but we've still got to stay at work, miserable, until 5pm because that is what is expected of us. 

John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," and this concept of "clock" time assumes that what we call "life" will never happen. Children won't get sick. Tires on cars won't go flat. Alarm clocks won't get themselves reset by a storm in the middle of the night.

In short, Chronos is a pain in the butt.

For some time now, I've been able to experience time in the sense of Kairos. Kairos "is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment," the supreme moment or "soul time." It is the place where "time" and "destiny" meet. It is where a person does the things of life when they "feel" right. I wake up, not at 6:30 am, but whenever my body feels rested enough. I eat lunch, not at noon because that's the only time I can, but whenever I feel hungry. And, if I don't feel hungry, I don't eat because I know that, when my body does get hungry, I can always stop what I'm doing and mosey on over somewhere for a bite. I don't go to bed at 10 pm. I can stay up and be productive as long as I don't feel tired. When I feel tired, I sleep. I don't need to stress about this project I'm doing that I can't give enough time to. I don't need to feel pressure to perform if I'm feeling sub-par.
My relationship with Kairos never ceases to amaze me. Even hours from home, I can be exactly where I am needed to give a little help at just the right time. Last week, I went to visit my father who lives about 2 hours drive from me. There's a little bar in my hometown that I hang out at that's very similar to the old television show "Cheers." I wasn't planning on going there while I was visiting, but I felt Kairos pulling me. I was able to go and, in an amazing bit of serendipity, I was able to not only give some mama-type support to a friend, but to and lend a shoulder, a friendly ear and a bit of counselling to some ladies as their close friend died.

I know that this world is not conducive, at all, to following Kairos and I so wish it was. I understand that not everyone has this option, right now, of living off "soul" time, but I'd like to see the world go more that way. Even in the job sphere, there's a, idea and concept of this, floating below the surface called "flextime." So the idea is out there, it's not as commonly embraced as I think it should be.

I wish we could just all go "wherever the wind takes us."

Wouldn't that be nice to live our lives on our own time, by our personal time table? Because of the things that I have happened to me, I am now able to live like this. Sure, I still deal with clock time every now and again. Banks still are only open at certain times and I have friends that wouldn't appreciate a phone call to hang out at 2:00 am. But in general, Kairos and I are flowing right along, now.

Maybe I'm way off base, for you, and Chronos works for you. Maybe scheduling time for yourself to be creative before the kids wake up gives you the quiet you need to be your most productive. Personally, clock time and schedules never really worked out for me because it didn't allow for life to flow and unfold organically. If Chronos is your friend, I'm a bit jealous of you, I must say. Chronos people seem to operate better within this world than Kairos people.

Maybe one day, the world will understand Kairos people. It's already going that way with online banking and Netflix and other such "all hours" type companies.

So, what is your experience with time? Do you seem to have enough to do what you'd like to, or are you rushing around trying to get everything accomplished? Does Chronos work for you, or would you like to maybe reorganize your life to let Kairos in for a time? Is there time that you could let Kairos in without throwing your life into too much chaos? How about a Kairos weekend?

Ah, my lovelies. Let me hear back from you about time and your experience with it. Do you feel you have "enough"?

And please remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

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