It happened not once but twice this week.
I had zoom meetings with clients and partners in Europe and both times we almost missed each other.
Apparently, the end of Daylight Savings Time occurs on different days on other continents.
Both ahead––and therefore, in this case, behind–– the curve, Europe “falls back” a week before we do in the US.
I took it as further proof thatI live in a contradictory world around time––I’m both Nonchronological™ and obsessively punctual––and it inspired this month’s meditation HERE.
Some would say my priorities might be slightly askew but I think you’ll understand.
You see, the highlight of my week was NOT receiving my diploma for my Executive MBA.
Instead, it was renting a storage space in a new structure, one that’s directly across from my subway stop, a mere 7-minute walk from my apartment.
I got it because I had to decide what to do with my Farmstand where I’ve been growing tons of vegetables on my terrace.
(I called and asked the Farmstand people if I could store it outside for the winter. They said “Yes, absolutely…provided it doesn’t get cold or wet”…which made me realize that the operator had clearly never experienced winter pretty much anywhere).
The other overarching motivation, however, had been that ever since moving into this apartment I’ve been tormented by storing my Christmas ornaments in my office closet.
Since they are only used for one month a year, for the other 11 months they occupy way too much space.
It would be impractical and expensive for anyone to start afresh each year, but for me it would be unthinkable.
I inherited my ornaments 8 years ago from when my beloved next-door neighbor Natalie died.
Two years before, Natalie offered her ornament collection for my tree trimming party.
When I took the tree down after the holiday, of course I offered to return them to her.
Instead, she replied, “Why don’t you just keep them? After all, Christmas is right around the corner!”
True enough––although when I asked her it was January 6th.
I’ve been noticing a lot lately that time seems more tightly rationed.
Don’t get me wrong: I like when things are focused and concise.
And yet…I’m observing an increasing spirit of scarcity around time,
When I first started teaching yoga (nearly 2 decades ago, but who’s counting), I most often taught an hour and forty-five minute class.
Later, when I began teaching the advanced class or a late-night “Midnight Yoga” those were a full 2 hours.
Now, it’s very rare to find any class that’s longer than 60 minutes.
Even those students who are dedicated and passionate about their practices somehow no longer have the time for more.
Forget about Daylight Savings…somehow that sleight-of-hand extra hour seems permanently lost.
Here’s the funny thing about my new storage space.
It’s effect is oddly like that of the TARDIS in Dr. Who, the old-fashioned police box that’s somehow significantly larger on the inside than it appears on the exterior.
I’m only using 1/3 of it and yet somehow by freeing up just a few things from each closet in my apartment, I feel my living space has tripled.
Sometimes an extra inch of space equals miles of breathing room.
The storage facility is sunny and super clean and frankly Vlad loves the walk to it and everyone who works there.
Unlike my previous storage experiences––which ranged from neutral to negative––this moment feels magical.
My first two storage units many years ago were, in fact, florescent nightmares.
You felt as though an American Horror Story episode must be connected to every adjacent unit.
There was one bright-spot, however, which I’ve shared before but is worth the retelling.
More than a decade ago, completing a move-in, I shared a picture of my neatly packed boxes, each with a printed label in 48 pt Helvetica, with a dear friend.
In one of them, I’d packed a very fancy gifted picnic basket that I’d simply labelled “Fragile: Picnic.”
I can’t remember which of us said it first, but especially when it comes to time and storage, life is indeed a very fragile picnic.
Time is one of the most challenging elements of meditation.
There’s an old zen saying:
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day.
Unless you’re too busy.
Then you should sit for an hour.”
(Perhaps that’s the hour we keep losing and gaining over all the years?)
I’ve often used that quote at events and workshops and while it gets a laugh––I tend to have good comic timing (pun unavoidable)––I always follow up by disagreeing with myself.
One of the biggest myths around meditation––around anything––is that a certain amount of time is required for it to be effective.
That’s never true for the mystical.
(And that’s why I offer meditations of much shorter length HERE.)
As William Blake wrote two centuries ago, we might better be tasked
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour…”
The quality of your meditation (or any experience) can’t be measured with a stopwatch.
Indeed, whether it’s via meditating, knitting, or playing Call of Duty, we’ve all had the experience Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as Flow, a psychological state of optimal experience, where it’s unclear if a minute or an hour has passed.
In fact, stepping out of time might just be the best measure of its successful use.
I never overtly trained him for this but, since I try to take a nap every day, Vlad responds to the command “Cuddle Time” far more than any other directives I give him.
(You can see a 23 second video demonstration–sound on––of it HERE.)
Almost always, whether it’s for 15 minutes or an hour, life requires that I set a timer on my apple watch for each nap.
Yet however long it lasts, that time remains priceless.
Ironically, it’s the break in the flow that allows the flow.
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Next week (or so), I’ll be announcing a powerful way we can grab more time for ourselves.
Not a mere relabeling of time––like Daylight Savings––but a true expansion.
It’s all about turning inward, of course.
Indeed, like the TARDIS (and my storage space),our inner dimensions vastly exceed our exteriors.
That’s why we can experience eternity in an hour…or perfect happiness in a 15 minute puppy nap.
And those are truths you can (and should) set your watch to…