Time is funny. Those first three minutes on the treadmill pass one slow second at a time. While the hour between when I wake up and have to be out the door to get to work passes in one hurried breath of packing a kid’s lunchbox, throwing on clothes and leaving my breakfast half-made on the counter. An hour in traffic vs. an hour of free time to lie in the sun with a book—definitely not the same thing.
Mostly when I think about time, I wish for more of it. More time to get work done. More time to spend with my kids and husband. Wishing the weekends didn’t fly by, night time didn’t come so fast, and morning didn’t come so soon.
But, as I stop to think of it, I realize what I really want is less of it. When you hear people describe the most meaningful moments of their lives, they often describe a feeling of timelessness, of time stopping, of things simultaneously being fast and slow and standing still. Many describe meeting Meher Baba this way. That all awareness of surroundings, even time itself, dissolve. And in my own small way, I know that feeling: walking through the woods with someone you love and having no idea how much time has passed, getting consumed in some wonderful creative project and time losing its grip, sitting in Baba’s samadhi and not knowing if a minute or an hour has passed. Those moments, that bend time, or momentarily release one from it, have a glorious freedom. Rather than wish for another hour to get work done, I’d be better off wishing for five minutes of time letting me completely free of its grasp.
Baba described Himself as being beyond time but appearing to exist in time’s bounds when He manifests. And He was clear that time exists at different levels of consciousness. Speaking of His own silence in The Ancient One, Baba mentions saying that He would break His silence soon and then three decades elapsed. He then tells a parable to illustrate the reality of time. A warrior has been struck down and as he is falling to the earth, he notices ants in his path and in a moment of compassion for them, he sways his body slightly to avoid killing them. That split second, almost impossible for us to register, Baba says, is the time between Him observing and breaking His silence.
So, what to make of that story? On the one hand, all the hours spent running late or worrying are nothing in the grand scheme of things, and there is something comforting about that. Then again, the same could be said of our moments of joy—laughing with a child, running through the rain, swimming in the ocean—and somehow I want those moments to have more weight. But maybe the truth is not so linear. Time may be a measure. But the impact of moments on our souls is more about where we spend our energy, our mental focus, our heart’s attention. It is the depth not the length of moments that give them meaning. So rather than wish for more time, I will wish for more attention paid to the things in my life that matter most.