After watching The Theory of Everything about the life of Stephen Hawking, Iíve found myself thinking about time and what it means. Thinking about how time is something we canít control. We canít stop it. We canít determine how much time we have left. We can rush ourselves to fit more into time but we canít actual change time. We canít go forward or backward in time, except in our minds through looking at photos or thinking of times gone by or what things might be like in the future.
We can slow ourselves down. Take the time it takes to do things like the man with his donkey. Not allow time to dominate our life. Allow enough time to do what we need to do.
We sometimes have a weird relationship with time. We often talk about running out of time, never having enough time, time getting away from us, needing more time, using our time wisely- or not. We never seem very happy with time. Always wanting to use it differently or have more of it.
Perhaps the uncertainty of not knowing how much time we actually have in our lives makes it difficult. When Stephen Hawking was given two years to live after he received the diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease his plans had an urgency. He wanted, or needed, to develop his theories quickly. Of course he is now over 70 years old, having survived well beyond that original prognosis. Nevertheless, it seems that his sense of urgency never left him. That foreboding sense of death ever present perhaps.
Iíve been thinking about the way that knowing of our imminent death might make our relationship with time different. So let's imagine for a moment that we have say 100 days to live. That makes it 2400 hours. Take out some time for sleep, say 6 hours a day. That brings it down to 1800 hours. We would really want to make every hour, every minute, count Iím sure. We would want to live our lives to the fullest. We would want to do the things that are most important to us. Be with the people we care about the most. Get the most out of every single minute.
Perhaps the messages from mindfulness are really about that. Although we donít know the exact amount of time left we live as if we do. We donít allow minutes or the moments within them to pass unnoticed, unchecked. We take note, we act on the present, we refocus on the here and now rather than the past and future, which in fact donít exist at the very moment.