What if time isn’t money – but a currency of its own?
Because it is.
What if time is finite and therefore we need to curate every moment as carefully and mindfully as possible to stay aligned with our purpose, not to be diverted.
What if every minute, every second, is an investment spent out of a limited time-life-savings account? What if our holdings are dwindling? What if we waste it, squander it on crap because we never check our balance, because we imagine that our accounts are inexhaustible when they are in fact running out, fast approaching a negative balance?
What if we truly spend time and must pay out our attention?
Because that is the case.
How would you live? What would you spend your time on? What would you allow to occupy or drain you? How much of your account would you expend? What losses would you be willing to write off if you knew the truth: that death is life’s companion, that uncertainty is reality and that the notion that our time-accounts are safe and secure and abundant is an illusion?
What would you let go of? What would you commit to?
What would you allow to preoccupy you? What noise would you get caught up in? What would you do when you recognized all that you have squandered? What would you be willing to gamble on?
What if you reviewed your accounts and saw that you had been negligent, allowing your limited holdings to be stolen from you, in tiny increments, barely noticeable? What action would you take when you are shown for the first time all of the fees deducted, the secret unnamed penalties and surcharges that you never noticed were contractually attached to hundreds of daily, habitual transactions? What would change if you woke up from this indulgent dreaming and saw that every moment is both precious and able to be wasted?
How would others appear to you? How would you relate to all of those caught in the thick dreaming all around you? Everyone operating as if they have been granted an infinite and inexhaustible trust-fund of time to fritter away and squander, who take time for granted so profoundly that they don’t even know it is a limited resource, and that it will run out.
All those who have no idea that they are actually writing the story of their lives by how they spend each and every second.
This is either an initiation into a new reality, or maybe a new dream in and of itself.
Dream time is strange and non-linear, it compresses and expands, slows and speeds up, and circles back upon itself. I listen to dreams for a living – and so I have heard this statement more times than I can count:
“… and then the dream changed and I was somewhere else…”
When I received a strange diagnosis last fall, my dream changed and I am now somewhere else.
Maybe I have ten years of time and relative health left in my account. Or maybe this unique and peculiar central nervous system cancer continues to behave in an anomalous way, and slips through all attempts to treat it. Maybe next week I will find that I have a lesion on my optic nerve. Maybe I will lose the use of my legs in two years time.
Might I get to hold my grandchildren one day?
Will I live until my children graduate high school?
Will I see their thirtieth birthday?
Or, on that day, will I merely exist as a framed photo on their bureau?
A memory of having been loved.
I am living in the reality that life is an inherently insecure proposition.
And all the years I spent as a psychotherapist trying to make people feel safe, when I still believed that that safety was an entitlement and not an illusion.
I should have helped people feel brave instead of safe.
The illusions protect us from the terror, but life is more exquisite and time is more real and precious without the insulation.
There are many who live for a year or two in this dream – I watched my mother, and my chosen sister pass through this space on their way to death. They relished life, and I saw their eyes wide open drinking in every beautiful heartbreaking mundane moment.
Every dirty brown sparrow was a beautiful bird.
Every bite of food was an explosion of gorgeous flavor.
Every second counted.
And there are those who may expect to live long term, for decades in this poignant space, with the illness present, alive, but managed: People with AIDS, those with slow or degenerative conditions. Those who actively live, as Gillian Rose says, “in symbiosis with the disease.”
Will I dwell here for months or years or decades?
No one knows, because there is no knowing.
There never has been any knowing.
I’ve found compatriots in books as I always do, others who have lived connected to Uncertainty and Death as close and familiar traveling companions.
Keep your mind in hell and despair not.
A crisis of illness, bereavement, separation, natural disaster, could be the opportunity to make contact with deeper levels of the terrors of the soul, to loose and to bind, to bind and to loose.
~ Gillian Rose, Love’s Work
I only know one thing, and that is to shout to my children ‘Long Live Life!’
~ Alphonse Daudet, In the Land of Pain
And memories of friends long lost:
Mike, who died of AIDS in our early 30’s in our last phone call, a sudden chilling cry: “You don’t know what it is like to live with something in your body that is trying to kill you!”
He’d been living with it already, running from it as fast as he could, for ten years.
Bob, who died of AIDS in our 40’s. His Lazarus-like rise from the dead when protease inhibitors rescued him from a near fatal T-cell count. His insane, mischievous, provocative giggle. His deadly serious, heroic foolishness.
Their dream changed too.
Time became something else. Something other than what it was before. Friendship became something else. More essential and transcendent.
Love, pleasure, color, contact, all intensified. Everything heightened.
A life binge.
and Time becomes a sensation, a visceral bodily experience.
You live time like you breathe air.
And when the dream changes you can suddenly hear the heartbeat of the universe beating, underneath everything, the baseline pounding, the clock ticking, under all the noise and silliness and tragedy and suffering.
And the beating rhythm of life says this:
This is life. This is Life. This is Life.
And this is life too. Every single moment.
Spend your time wisely.
This is life. This is time. This is life.
You are alive this minute.
This is the moment.
This is all the time you have got.