Time is a precious commodity. Given freely, we delight in the seemingly endless pool of possibilities. Consider the urban drift (a concept derived from the Situationists) in which you just wander around, open to getting lost. You follow your nose, your whims, and if it's too difficult, just take the next left, left, right, left until you are lost. No longer obsessed with timing and plans, you might find yourself rather delighted by what you come across in this state. In fact, the act itself often results in a kind of walking trance - I find it very useful for the temporary erasure of time and recommend it when you need to reset.
Pinched for time on the other hand, we feel like a forceful finger is whipping the pages of our lives far too quickly. I know a few people who claim they became some sort of chef-in-the-making during these COVID quarantine times because they could actually do their cooking without feeling the pressure of having to do the next ten things directly after. To participate in an act, any act and to do it fully, requires a presence and release into said task. Do you think the food was enjoyed more and digested better as a result? I'm gonna guess hells yah.
Besides the cartesian sweep of the second hand, time can be defined as what we allow giving our attention to. Let's call it the photographic eye of our sattentiveness (a word i just made up combining attention + sensitivity). We take a little snapshot with our mind and focus, taking it all in, moment to moment: a dramatic, gruesome scene in a painting by Hieronymus Bosch peppered with so many details, an essay written by John Berger which explains his viewing of that painting, pulling weeds from in preparation for planting flowers and food in place of, petting an animal friend, drawing a thoughtful bath for a guest, organizing the spice rack, measuring the specs of a room to design a custom piece of furniture to fit it. These are the sort of tasks one can lose track of time in.
Then there are, of course, the things that stink up the headspace and try to steal your attention: that looming pile of dishes piling up in the sink, mosquitoes, a strong emotion which triggers, sneaks up on you and tries so hard to disguise itself as a truth.
They say the devil is in the details. I find the most pleasure in those seemingly unnoticeable details and i see experiences as a culmination of someone's actions; yours, mine, somebody, everybody. Somebody flew the plane, took the plane, made the plane, sold the tickets for one to board the plane. The resulting experiences are curated by each and every one of those players. Therefore, we are essentially experiencing the extension of each other through our actions (and the consequences of their contributions) and the imbuement felt in the details of those exchanges.
These exchanges of our extensions are like loans: if i loan a scarf out and it gets returned washed, perfumed and folded thoughtfully, i'm delighted. if i loan an impatient glance out because i'm feeling pinched for time, i'm quite sure the effect will stir a vibrational chemistry which will produce in part, the quality of the next act (which is dependent on the state of the recipient who will pass it on).
The scene featured in this photo is the perfect example of a beautiful human loaning out his warmth, thoughtfulness, and gratefulness which yielded more of the same as a result. When we are gracious and generous with our time, we make a space for each other to stretch out and get creative. It was this delightful bath whereby it came to me to do an experiment: To avoid frenzied attention and allow real space to one of each of the 7 lovely people i'm currently cohabitating with why not give each person their own specific window of time; one person at a time, randomly chosen for the duration of an entire luxurious day, where i focus only on them.
I have run a mini version of this in the past for a writing group, where each person is given ten uninterrupted minutes to speak about their work, pause if they need to but without being interrupted by someone filling in what they think of as awkward space. Or in dance practices, such as authentic movement, where one person moves blindfolded for ten minutes and the others participate as sole witnesses to the pure improvisation and impulse of each moment. it's beautiful to allow space. to not be hurried along. it's beautiful to allow; to see what can unfold by one's own will without being cut off or redirected.
Whatever we are making space for and focusing on, is splicing our time into percentages of potential quality-making: in conversations, if we are cutting each other off, there is never the space to fully express, to listen and to to be heard. what you enter as a conversation quickly becomes a frenzy of what feels like a shark tank having to compete to get a word in edgewise, having to dominate the last to speak so that you can be heard. This i ponder as a sort of daily occurrence in the dog eat dog world we tend to work and live in. We get short with each other, we wanna get ahead, and we definitely don't want to be left behind.
And so what about the experiment?
Each morning i was waking up to take a run in Treptower park, when i felt i ran enough, i would take pause, and spin the wheel from this random name generator. I would close my eyes before i would look to give a little pre-wish about my intentions: to really see the person, to try to feel them, and think about how i could serve them - meaning, what is it that they might need to make the experience of their life or at least their day better and what can i offer to aid this? Then when i opened the eyes and saw the name, i would open myself to allow them to enter my sphere and when they were directly in my presence it was very powerful to have this focus and energy directed towards them. "I see you and you see me." When we open ourselves to each other, we are kind of erasing time with generous acts which feed us enough to stop the worry lines - they become muted yet colorful and less sharp and edgy. we fit together more like squishy blobs dancing together softly rather than as squares and circles not quite fitting into or even next to each other.
We can be generous when we say, despite the stress and the pressure and the need to make ends meet, to make sure our insurance and tax papers are in order - that we can be kind, think about others, give love, cookies and other snacks, share knowledge, moments of silence, do someone else's task for them, spend some time to fix something that is broken or hard to understand, or offer enough time to really listen to how someone is.
These loans to each other - the intermingling and culmination of our own extensions, auras, energies are generating the next acts - so i think it's worth to intentionally curate the mindful experience you'd like to see passed on to the next and the next and the next. It's inspiring to witness these acts and i can guarantee it kinda makes you feel good too.
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