These past couple of years, when most of us have experienced a reality shaped almost entirely by a global pandemic that has taken millions of human and non-human lives, we’ve been directly confronted with our relationship with Time.
For some of us, Time has stretched out endlessly, a dreary Sahara, each day indistinguishable from the next, with none of the navigational markers we have come to rely upon to move through our days. No getting up in time to go to work or ferry kids to school. No meeting up with friends in the evenings or on weekends. No family holidays or celebratory meals. No retreats, vacations, concerts, outings to look forward to, plan for, dream about.
Clearly, our relationship with Time has been heavily skewed towards Future Time – the next event, the next thing we prepare for, rather than savouring the life we are experiencing here and now. It’s a peculiarly capitalist affliction — we see ourselves as a commodity (Time is money!), and we pit ourselves against the limits of time. We seek to monetize our time rather than living joyfully within its embrace.
External demands on our time changed, during this pandemic. You no longer had to get up early to get dressed to go to work, but maybe you had kids at home all day needing help with remote learning, and just getting through their lives without being able to hang out with their friends, go to school, play sports or go on field trips.
For those of us who have the good fortune of working from home, these changes weren’t as drastic or as disruptive, but they’ve offered us a more subtle challenge. With social and cultural activities off the table, we’ve had more time available to us. We have been able to see, clearly, our patterns and priorities when it comes to organizing our time.
In fact, it’s dawned on us that Time isn’t something we’re competing with, whose limits we scramble to overcome through some combination of willpower, discipline, productivity, determination and focus. Rather, Time is a natural boundary that exists in our world. It is the element through which we grow, evolve, and become more of who we are.
We are in constant relationship with Time, as we are with every other element of our ecology.
So… what does this have to do with Sovereignty?
As sovereign beings we can choose how we want to relate to Time. We can fight it, yield to it, collapse into despair that we will never have enough of it, strive to overcome its limitations – and yet, none of these will bring us into sovereign relationship with it.
On the other hand, we can relate to it as one sovereign being to another. We can respect its qualities, the things that make Time what it is. And we can partner with it consciously to create our lives and our world in ways that harmonize our true desires with the time available to us to fulfill them.
As more people are fully vaccinated, as our world is opening up, and covid variants are rapidly proliferating, I’ve heard this question from a number of friends and colleagues: What do I say when I’m invited to an event (family gathering, wedding of a close friend, celebration of life, college reunion) where there will be a large number of people milling about at close quarters, unmasked, some of whom may not be vaccinated? It means a lot to them that I show up, but I don’t feel safe being there.
Consider this question in relation to Time and Sovereignty. For the friends or family who are throwing this party, it’s time to gather together to celebrate. But you have your own relationship with Time, and for you, the time to meet up with large groups of people may not be now, or next week, or next month.
Your relationship with Time isn’t one you plan; like any relationship, it is, at its heart, improvisational, a two-way flow of call and response, love and partnership. You make choices as Time and events unfold, as you evolve – and in this case, as you gather more information, as the pattern of covid variants and infections becomes clearer.
Obviously, there are aspects of your life that require planning, or you wouldn’t have a roof over your head or food on your table. But the beauty of being in sovereign relationship with Time is that you build those necessities into the structure of your days, and you build in swaths of unstructured, unobstructed, free-flowing time…
…Time when you choose, moment to moment, to follow your desires, be in creative relationship with the emergent, respond to the movements of your soul and the world around you in direct, unscripted ways.
So much of becoming a sovereign human being is learning how to be in relationship with the immutable elements of your ecology so that, within their constraints, you can experience creative flow and freedom.
We live in nested ecologies intricately woven with the twigs and mosses of interdependent relationships. Our relationship with Time accompanies us throughout our lives, from first breath to last. Eventually, Time will usher us out of this world, and leave us at the threshold where it first welcomed us into the world of form. It’s invitation is always this — to become more fully ourselves, within the power of its embrace.