“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart,
and try to love the questions themselves
as if they were locked rooms
or books written in a very foreign language.”*
Just because we don’t know something doesn’t mean we will never know it. Just because we can’t do something doesn’t mean we will never be able to do it. If it is important to us, and I don’t mean a whim, then there’ll need to be a slowness, a willingness to remain with just what this is for a long time, perhaps a lifetime.
‘We’re all capable of huge insight and empathy if we’re willing to work to learn how.’**
Perhaps we express our exasperation at not having enough time to do what we really want to do, but what if we are time? Jorge Luis Borges wrote about how:
“Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”^
Alan Burdick helps us to see the limitations we place on time by the ways we metaphorise it:
“Whenever we talk about it, we do so in terms of something lesser. We find or lose time, like a set of keys; we save and spend it, like money. Time creeps, crawls, flies, flees, flows, and stands still; it is abundant or scarce; it weighs on us with palpable heft.”^^
Whatever we liken time to, says Burdick, in the end time matters to us because one day it will run out:
“Yet whatever one calls it, we share a rough idea of what’s meant: a lasting sense of one’s self moving in a sea of selves, dependent yet alone; a sense, or perhaps a deep and common wish, that I somehow belongs to we, and that this we belongs to something even larger and less comprehensible; and the recurring thought, so easy to brush aside in the daily effort to cross the street safely and get through one’s to-do list, much less to confront the world’s true crises, that my time, our time, matters precisely because it ends.”^^
When someone says to me, “I will give you some of my time,” it doesn’t mean the amount of time they have lessens whilst mine increases, rather our times intertwine. This sense of time shared helps us to move to the things we could never learn or feel or do on our own.
Kio Stark writes about the value of encountering strangers. When we allow time for interaction, we are potentially opening up greater possibilities, creating time for change:
‘But when you talk to a stranger, when you admire and respect their difference from you, when you help them, your are making the world around you more malleable, creating space for change.’*^
Strangers may be the least likely to receive our time and yet it may be that these will be some of the most significant and valuable moments of our lives when we see it’s not about having time but about being time.
(*Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog The musclebound baby.)
(^Jorge Luis Borges, quoted in Maria Popova’s BrainPickings: Empathy is a Clock that Ticks in the Empathy of Another.)
(^^Alan Burdick, quoted in Maria Popova’s BrainPickings: Empathy is a Clock that Ticks in the Empathy of Another.)
(*^From Kio Stark’s When Strangers Meet.)