In considering how I want to honor Third Hand Works’ tenth anniversary, I’ve been thinking about other milestones – like when I actually turned 10. The transition to fifth grade was a rough year (and, wow, that Dorothy Hamill haircut didn’t help). I’m so thankful to be in the midst of an occasion significantly less awkward and confusing. The clarity and confidence gained from experience is also something I’m celebrating.
But enough with the past. Let’s get back to the present – and the presents! – and get on with the party. There’s a lot to unwrap this week…
In honor of summertime and its undeniable pull to go outside and play, this week’s Foundations excerpt and mini-guide giveaway are all about trading chronos for kairos and taking back your weekend.
Foundations, Week 2: Understanding You
As I mentioned last week, while the Foundations program is nothing like a boot camp, and I’m certainly not tearing anyone down in order to build them back up again, the opening weeks of the course are about separating what is yours from what doesn’t belong to you, so you can build your foundation on what is solid and true. With fresh perspectives on Time and Systems, in the second week of the program, we then turn our attention to gaining a fresh perspective on your own experience, history and innate talents and preferences.
One way we explore that is by finding out who you are when you aren’t watching a clock…
Exercise: A Day Without Clocks
At some point during the next few weeks, move through one full day without once looking at a single mechanical clock.
Since mechanical clocks are everywhere and are essential to our modern connections with others, this takes some planning.
For starters, you need to choose an appointment-free day as arriving at a specific time without being able to refer to a clock probably isn’t going to turn out very well. It’s easiest to do this on a weekend or sabbath day, but I strongly encourage you to also try it on a work day if possible.
The evening before your chosen clock-free day, go through your home and/or office and turn off, cover or otherwise hide all the clocks. (Just inventorying how many mechanical clocks are in your everyday environment is an illuminating exercise in itself.)
In my home there is a clock in the living room, one built into the thermostat, one built into the stove (we don’t use the one in the microwave), one in the bathroom, and the sunrise alarm clock in the bedroom, among others. Of course, clocks show up in our computers, telephones and smartphones, not to mention the TV. There is a clock in the car. I stopped wearing a watch when I became self-employed, but if I still did that would need to go too.
Having removed all the mechanical clocks, you’re now prepared to experience a day shaped only by your biological clock, senses and intuition.
Sleep until you wake.
Eat when you are hungry.
Move from one activity to the next as your energy and attention shifts.
Rest when you are tired.
There are no clocks to tell you what you should do.
That you should get out of bed.
That you should eat lunch.
That you should start or stop working.
You’re going to have to figure it out for yourself.
Though you may pine for the opportunity of unstructured time, removing this ubiquitous device can be a bit discombobulating. But that’s okay because it’s chock-full of useful information.
About how well you hear, understand and trust the signals and feedback your body, mind, heart and environment are giving you. About how easily you give yourself permission to act on that information. About what your personal daily rhythms actually are. And about how many rules you live by are tied to mechanical clock-time.
Also notice, in the absence of clocks, if you have more experiences of kairos.
The ancient Greeks distinguished between two concepts of Time, chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to numeric or chronological time. Kairos, literally “the right or opportune moment”, describes metaphysical or Divine time, a time between, an indeterminate moment in which something special happens. While chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative.
• • • • •
Kairos. Real time. God’s time.
That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we’re constantly checking our watches for chronological time.
The saint in contemplation, lost to self in the mind of God is in kairos. The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside herself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation. – Madeleine L’Engle
• • • • •
Chronos is clocks, deadlines, watches, calendars, agendas, planners, schedules, beepers. Chronos is time at her worst. Chronos keeps track. Chronos is the world’s time.
Kairos is transcendence, infinity, reverence, joy, passion, love, the Sacred. Kairos is intimacy with the Real. Kairos is time at her best. Kairos is Spirit’s time.
We exist in chronos. We long for kairos. That’s our duality. Chronos requires speed so that it won’t be wasted. Kairos requires space so that it might be savored. We do in chronos. In kairos we’re allowed to be. It takes only a moment to cross over from chronos into kairos, but it does take a moment.
All that kairos asks is our willingness to stop running long enough to hear the music of the spheres. – Sarah Ban Breathnach
• • • • •
Reflect & Note
Does this exercise feel impossible? If so, why?
If you completed this exercise, what was your experience? What did you learn about yourself and the effect of mechanical clocks on your experience of Time?
In the absence of chronos, did you have a greater experience of kairos?
What do you gain and lose without mechanical time?
How you would organize your time if clocks remained permanently absent?
• • • • •
Course participants have gained a wide range of insights from this exercise – from discovering how essential clocks are to their relationships, to a greatly lowered resistance and sense of peace about their work – even a whole new way of organizing their daily activities! Try it and see what you discover…
Never on a Sunday:
8 Steps to Taking Back Your Weekend
We have the best of intentions when it comes to taking time off. We want to do it, we make plans to do it, we try our best to follow through on our intentions – and we often fail. We either remain fully engaged in our work more or less seven days a week or we end up doing that even less satisfying in-between thing that’s neither rejuvenation nor work.
And even when we do give ourselves time off, our minds can be preoccupied with work throughout our entire weekend or vacation. There’s no shaking that nagging sense that we should be doing something else. And that mental distraction does nothing to help us rest.
In a culture that values productivity and considers busy a badge of honor, unplugging turns out to be something of an advanced skill. Even clients who have studied with me for years, when asked how they are going to celebrate and recover from the work of the week, at best have a wishy-washy answer and at worst don’t have any answer at all. And sometimes I can’t do any better.
Giving yourself some much-needed R&R actually takes some know-how, commitment and practice. So I’ve created this 16-page mini-guide to taking back your weekend.
If you’re already subscribed to the Aerogramme, Never on a Sunday is probably already waiting for you in your inbox. If not, you can become a subscriber by entering your contact info below the airmail envelope in the top right of this page, then clicking “sign me up.”
• • • • •
For a whole lotta years, I worked seven nights a week, three and four shows a night, and… I got a little tired. I think that everybody deserves at least one day a week off, even this lady…
Oh, you can kiss me on a Monday,
a Monday, a Monday is very very good.
Or you can kiss me on a Tuesday,
a Tuesday, a Tuesday – in fact I wish you would.
Or you can kiss me on a Wednesday,
a Thursday, a Friday, Saturday is best.
But never never on a Sunday
a Sunday, a Sunday ’cause that’s my day of rest.
Most any day – c’mon be my guest!
Any day you say, but my day of rest.
Just name the day that you like the best.
Only stay away on my day of rest.
You can kiss me on a cool day,
a hot day, a wet day – which ever one you choose.
Or try to kiss me on a grey day,
a May day, a pay day and see if I refuse.
And if you make it on a bleak day,
a freak day, a week day – why, you can be my guest.
But never never on a Sunday.
A Sunday’s the one day I’ve got to get some rest!
Missed last week’s celebration?
You can read it and learn how to download last week’s gift, The Systems De-Ick-Er, here.
And for those of you who have been playing along: What happened when you said something more honest than you “didn’t have the time”? What have you discovered about the nature of systems that has surprised, delighted or comforted you? Share your insights on the blog. I’d love to hear them.
How To Get Out of the Quicksand of Overwhelm
If your to-do list is so overwhelming that you can’t begin to imagine taking a day off (with or without clocks), then you need to grab the rope!
This handbook is the missing set of emergency instructions – the stop, drop and roll – for getting yourself out of the quicksand of overwhelm and back on solid ground.
And this week, in honor of my second foundational system-crafting task – changing my shopping cart service – How To Get Out of the Quicksand of Overwhelm is pay-what-you-want through this Friday (7/18) at noon Pacific. If a lack of funds has stood between you and relief, please seize this opportunity!
“This should be required reading for every entrepreneur and, well, every human being. It’s filled with so much smart stuff and so beautifully done. Loving it! THANK YOU.” – Fabeku Fatunmise
Next: A Mini-Guide to Decluttering
Next week I’ll share a way to resolve that conflicting, no-win sense that everything you’re doing comes at the expense of other things you need and want to do, along with a mini-guide to decluttering. Because between the lemonade, gardening and concerts in the park, summer is a great time for the essential work of cleaning up our messes.
“Whether you’re trying to garden or take a picture or write a book, your ability to make a creative mess is your most productive state. You want to be able to throw ideas all over the place, but you need to be able to start with a clear deck. One mess at a time is all you can handle. Two messes at a time, you’re screwed. You may want to find God, but if you’re running low on cat food, you damn well better make a plan for dealing with it. Otherwise the cat food is going to take a whole lot more attention and keep you from finding God.” – David Allen
That cat food will also keep you from taking time off and enjoying summer…
[ raising my glass of strawberry lemonade to yours ]
Peace and love,