Living at the Speed of Poise

by Gary on September 3, 2013 in

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Time Slipping Away - Ornate ClockI want to live forever.

This desire is a good sign, I think. Wanting to live forever, I must be loving my life more and more and don’t want it to end.

When we’re poised, time seems to pass too quickly, and we want to slow it down so we can savor every moment.

When we’re not poised, time seems to pass too slowly, and we want to speed it up so we can hurry past what we’re rejecting about life at the moment.

We don’t always love time in the ordinary life

As a young man working in a factory at a repetitious physical job, I dreaded going to work, where time seemed to move at an excruciatingly slow pace.  Time did not move slowly because I wanted it to, as I do today, but because I hated what I had to do each eight hour shift.

After attending college classes all morning, I arrived at the grimy factory complex, presented my company card at the guardhouse, took the elevator to the sixth floor where I punched the time clock, and headed for my machine and eight hours of drudgery.

I needed to drill and tap 88 pieces of cast iron every shift to earn the maximum amount of incentive pay.  That meant getting out 25 pieces by the first 15 minute break each shift.

My body had to move fast, but my mind was bored into numbness. Then two more hours and another 25 pieces drilled and tapped before a thirty minute lunch break.

The shift now half over at 8:00 p.m. I’m back at the radial drill lifting 38 more pieces off the conveyor belt, tightening them one at a time into the jig, drilling and tapping 15 holes in each piece, and then shoving them down the conveyor to the next man.  11:30 at night and 88 pieces and maybe a couple more “in the bank,” as we would say, giving me a head start for the next night.  Then sharpen the tools for the third shift man, sweep the floor, and punch out at midnight.  Back down the elevator, into the dark acres of parking lot, and into the car for the 30 minute commute home, where my wife and children would be long ago asleep.

For years I wanted to quit every day.  Quit the factory. Quit college.  When I thought about spending another 8 hours in the factory, I felt nothing but complaint.

I remember looking for sympathy from my father five years into the seven years it took me to finish college.  Dad wasn’t strong on empathy, but I made my appeal to him anyway, “I can’t stand this for two more years.  I want to quit.”

Dad’s response was, “Hell, you can stand on your head that long.”  For Dad, who had anesthetized his disappointments with life for decades with alcohol, two years of suffering must have looked like a lay-up.

So I stood on my head for two years and graduated.

But in later years there would be many other times when time seemed to pass too slowly. Maybe my marriage at the time was not going well or had just ended.  Or there were problems at work that seemed hopeless or threatening. Or my children and I didn’t align with my Father Knows Best standards for family relationships.  Or I was bored, stuck, circling in an eddy but going nowhere.

During those years, feeling sorry for myself and rejecting parts of my life, I wasted a lot of time.

How time is wasted in the ordinary life

The ordinary life is infected by complaint.  Sometimes life seems good or at least acceptable.  At other times, we think life is not good: we complain about it, reject it.

In the ordinary life, we push life away with some regularity.

Time is wasted in the ordinary life when we are not poised because:

v     We are not able to be present.  The now is the only place where a vibrant, joyful life can be lived.  But when we lose our poise, we are unable to embrace what is happening right now, obsessing about the past or the future.  We’re not here.

v     We are feeling separate.  Having lost our poise, we typically blame other people or the circumstances of life or an unfair god.  Feeling sorry for ourselves, we create a victim story to explain why we feel bad: now we are separate, adrift and alone, our egos insisting that we are misunderstood or unappreciated.

v     We can’t be grateful. In spite of life’s treasures, which are delivered to us each moment, we feel bereft, as if we aren’t getting our fair share.

v     Not poised, our creativity dries up, and we fail to improvise just when we most need to improvise.  Our problems ask for innovation, but if we feel sorry for ourselves inertia takes over and we can’t move creatively.

v     We feel heavy.  Our victim story blocks us from finding our light hearts again.  We’re not living our life now so much as suffering through it.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, measuring our wasted time, which is adding up now in weeks, months and years.

When I mention my desire to live forever to people, they invariably say, “Oh, no, I don’t want to live forever.”

complaint dept hand grenadeCastaneda says that an awful thing about humans is that we want to die.  Well, maybe people busy rejecting life do unconsciously want to die.

Or they want to die by blanking out when challenges arrive.  Let’s get this over!  I can’t wait until this is over!

They are wasting time, wasting life, and they want to rest from it.  Naturally, humans hate to suffer, and if they can’t see any way to end their suffering, they don’t see much point in living.

Not sustaining poise, spending a lot of precious time angry, disappointed, resentful, impatient, and depressed, time seems to move all too slowly.

The ordinary life, with its complaints and lack of  any sense of urgency to overcome those complaints, is life in the slow learning lane.

In the slow learning lane, we don’t  learn anything very fast and we don’t get to many wonderful destinations at all.

When we are poised, we experience time as our precious treasure

We get more out of each moment when we are poised:

  1. Poised, we enjoy life almost all of the time.

Poised in the moment, we live in the precious now, the only place where life can give us delight.  We are fully present, embracing what is happening now.  We don’t want to hurry restlessly toward a future which cannot be better than this moment.

This moment is what life gives us right now, and we cannot waste the moment by rejecting it.  Poised, we are connected to other people, so that we get the most out of our relationships.  We take everyone into our embrace, refusing to create any artificial separation that will make us feel miserable.  Everyone has been forgiven, and there is no unfinished business that interrupts our pleasure of being alive.

Poised, we feel connected to this beautiful earth that provides for our every need.  Our connection to the earth provides endless pleasures: the ever-changing sky, the exuberant animal and plant life, the evolving weather.  Poised, we are part of the this earth, fed  by it, our very molecules shared with it as we breathe it in.

Present and connected, we are grateful, our cups never half-full as the cliché goes, but filled to the brim.

When we are poised, we want to slow time down as much as possible so that we can savor it, and get the maximum possible enjoyment from each moment.

A warrior wants to live in slow motion, seeing every exquisite detail.

2. Poised, our learning speeds up.

This seems like a paradox: on the one hand we have slowed life down so that we can draw out all of its many nuanced  pleasures.

On the other hand, our capacity to learn is unobstructed by any resistance from us.

Living in the present moment, connected and grateful, our powers are at our disposal.

We are creative agents, addressing our challenges directly and without delay.  Any suffering gets our immediate attention, because we know that the suffering is our potential calling to us to learn something important.

As we are able to sustain our poise more and more, our learning speeds up, even though we aren’t in a hurry.  We are able to glide through our days because we are not resisting, but stalking even our own weaknesses with relish and efficiency.

Learning as fast as possible, we gain great clarity and personal power.  We have become warrior learners, looking, looking, breathlessly.

3. Life lasts longer when we are poised.

Sustaining our poise, we slow our day’s events down intentionally.  This is not the slow motion of the suffering life, but an exquisite slow motion that allows us to appreciate every moment.

Time seems to be stretching out at this stage, the arc of life on a longer trajectory..

Poised,  even a very busy, intense life can be experienced with a quiet mind.

For some time now, as I am able to sustain my poise for days at a time, I feel as if I’m in a continuous state of meditation, even when I’m engaged in lots of activity.

The warrior attempts to get the most out of life by intentionally slowing things down, refusing to succumb to panic or any other emotion that wants us to hurry off to some other experience, some other moment, some other life.

As Eckhart Tolle says, we now can decide what to think.  We decide to think only thoughts that help us sustain our poise and thrive in the now.

Poised, we slow our perceptions down, savoring, learning, not wanting to miss anything.

Living forever

In the last couple of years I have had  surprising experiences with time that I attribute to sustained poise.

These are wonderful times—sometimes lasting for hours—when I would love to spend eternity in the moment I’m in.

During these experiences time has not simply slowed down so that I can savor everything.

Time has stopped.

The usual setting: I am outside my house looking at the mountains rimming the horizon, hundreds of square miles of desert ranch land, and the magnificent and ever changing cloud formations, each one a work of nature’s art.

Time has stopped, I am one with this earth, and I never want to leave this moment.  I could live for eternity in this moment.  It’s heavenly.

My mind darts back into play for moments, but I am able to return to quietude and the eternal now.

During these times living forever seems possible.  All I would have to do is stay in this perceptual state, live there in a state of awe.

 

Time is too slow for those who wait

And time is too swift for those who fear

Time is too long for those who grieve

And time is too short for those who laugh

 

But for those who love

But for those who really love

But for those who love

Time

Sweet time

Precious time

Lovely time

All the time

Time, time, time, time

 

Hours fly….

Even flowers must die

And then a new day comes

And there’s a new day’s dawn

And there’s a new day’s sun

And love stays on

Sweet love stays on

Love stays on

Love stays on

Love, love, love, love…..

Time,  A Beautiful Day

by Gary on September 3, 2013 in

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  1. I can’t envisage a time or situation where life would lose its sweetness for me. When very young, I remember a
    framed embroidered sampler which was hung in my grandmother’s house. It read something like:-

    LOST

    between sunrise and sunset
    ONE hour, set with SIXTY diamond minutes,

    NO reward is offered, for they are gone forever.

    1. Phillip, What a lovely and poignant poem you have given us from Australia.

      And I am so glad to exchange with you our shared experience of the sweetness of life. Gary

  2. Hi Gary– These reminders to be poised are invaluable to me. Just yesterday, I had a conflict with a working colleague and could feel the energy to victimhood rising in my body. I wanted to strike back aggressively and could sense the formation of my victim story as it took shape in my mind. What a gift to see all this going on!

    So instead of acting while this energy was present, I “let the mud settle and the water clear” so the right action could arise. In the past, this never would have happened. When I dispersed the victim energy and moved back into poise, I was able to create a response that was positive for both of us. Please keep writing about these issues.