Time & Unhappiness

DAY 17

Time is has become my enemy. But also my teacher.


According to Eckhart Tolle time is ego. This is what he has said about the subject:

“To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation.”

“Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.”


I find that one of the biggest hinderances to my creativity and happiness is my perception of time. I constantly feel rushed, I have this idea that is well engrained that everything I do has to be done as quickly as possible. I don’t know where this idea comes from. It’s interesting because I come from one of the quickest places on Earth and I now live in one of the slowest places on Earth. If I can’t do something with presence, meaning, while feeling connected to the present, then I tend to feel anxious and mentally unfocused. There is no real joy when we aren’t present. Even if we get joy from a memory or from a fantasy, we are still missing out on what is actually happening. Feeling time pressure takes all the pleasure out doing. When I start to notice this, it means I have to stop doing and find my way back to presence. Usually physical activity is the best way back to presence. Or going into the receptive state. My favorite way is to lie on the floor, listening to calming music on headphones and look up at our beautiful palapa ceiling.

My perception of time also creates a lack of patience. With myself, and with those closest to me: especially Lucas, and Emilio. If I take away the idea that certain things needed to happen in a certain time frame (which usually is: right now), then there’s this sudden feeling of relief, that everything is as it should be. Going back to what I wrote the other day: I can have it all. Just not all at once. This is especially important to remember because I am trying to do so many things at once—I am the spider building 12 webs. If I am really building 12 webs at once, the progress I make on each will be much slower than if I was only to work on one at a time. With Emilio it’s the same. If I ask Emilio to do something, and he’s in the middle of doing something else, he won’t do what I ask until he feels done with what he’s working on. And even though he’s playing, he’s really working. For children, play is their work. Play is the work of childhood. It’s their most important form of learning. If I am patient and let go of the time line that it needs to happen now because I want it to happen now, what usually happens is in a minute or so, he tells me he’s done, and then he’s ready to do the thing I asked. He wasn’t being defiant. He was busy working. With Lucas, it’s also the same, I could prevent so much frustration if when I asked Lucas to do something, if I was no longer attached to when it needed it happen. I am a doer, and he is a thinker. He thinks things through before he does something. I just jump in and figure it out as I do it. When I trust his way, and stop trying to control it, he responds better to me, and he is more likely to do what I ask because he feels free to do it the way he wants instead of responding to me as “the taskmaster.”


Lately, in particular, I have been under my own spell of feeling rushed. It causes anxiety and it makes it hard to focus. I especially feel it in relation to my blog posts. The pressure I put on myself to post everyday can be both motivating and paralyzing. Tonight, instead of going into a heady process, I decided to use an expressive arts modality to work with my issue about time. I drew this picture, which expresses the constraints that time, and ultimately, ego puts on my experience.



Then, I drew a picture, purely from the unconscious, of the image I have of what it would be like with out the self-imposed constraints that time puts on me. I’ll refrain from delving into a deep analysis of the drawing for now (as is my tendency), and let it speak for itself in its yet to be finished state. (When Emilio saw my drawing, he wanted to draw on it too, and I let him! Can you see which marks are his?



The drawing is quite different from my usual style—a bit out of my comfort zone. I think the new style was inspired by some drawings my mother drew recently and also by the film Ponyo by the Sea, by the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. (I met him once when I worked as the Directors’ Liaison at the NY Film Festival, when his film Princess Mononoke was screened. He is a huge celebrity in Japan, which I got to witness when a mob of fans came up to him at the film festival.) His animation is breathtakingly beautiful and imaginative. The stories are sophisticated and delightful and are immersed in Japanese mythology, they often have strong, yet complex female heroines, and promote environmentalism. If you haven’t seen his films, I strongly recommend watching them. Most especially Ponyo by the Sea, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. The versions we have of Ponyo and Totoro are only in Japanese. These are the first films Emilio watched--they’re so visual, he never seemed to mind that he couldn’t understand the language. Or perhaps he has picked up some Japanese from them. Maybe one day I’ll watch them in English.

In honor of my letting go of the time pressure I put on myself, I didn’t do this post last night. And so I broke my commitment a little--which I don’t like to do. But it really helped to focus on drawing and to let go of feeling rushed. On top of that, it helped me to keep my new resolution of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. Last night, for the first time in who knows how long, I went to bed at 10:30 and woke up at 6:30, a few minutes before sunrise. I took a walk up the small mountain near us and even though I didn’t get to work on the blog as Emilio was awake before I got back, it was refreshing to have some time to myself in nature.  


Zoë DearbornEgo, HappinessComment