Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Length of an Hour

I don't generally wear a watch, not if I can help it. Not even before I started walking around with a cell phone as a de facto time keeper. Watches make me nervous, reminding me of how late I am or how little time I have left to accomplish a task. But I'm considering wearing one.

Why the change of heart?

Today I set my kitchen timer for one hour. One hour. One hour of sitting with my notebook—writing, thinking, looking at the horizon. One hour in which the only rule was that I should sit and be. Within fifteen minutes I could feel the effects taking hold. How much of my day do I spend outside myself, my focus split, refracted through the prism of my life? 

I read the words on the page, but I remember nothing. I am off in the future feeling frustrated by the slow pace of the progress I am making on my creative projects. I'm in the grocery store thinking of the argument I had with my husband that morning. I'm worrying about replying to an email while driving my daughter to school. And right in the middle of my creative process--right as I am writing my blog--I'm off wondering what people will think of it after it is done. 

Photo by Kathleen Keagy
"You are where you put your attention," my meditation teacher reminds us often. If that is so, then how often am I not in the activity I'm doing, not in the present moment, not in my own body?

For Christmas last year, my husband gave me a watch. An old-fashioned style watch filled with miniature gears and machinery—the kind you need to wind. On the face of the watch is a glass heart that reveals the gears of the watch below. Through this window, the miniature machinery flutters like wings and measures out time like the heart that reveals it. The gift of time. That's what I thought when my husband gave me the watch. But we can only have the gifts we are willing to receive.

One hour. I'll start with one hour. One hour on that watch to center myself in wherever I am and whatever I am doing. One hour to heighten my awareness of time, but not time shrouded in fear and anxiety. We only get to experience time when our souls inhabit a body, and I want to be sure to enjoy the phenomena while I can. Instead of a symbol of the time I don't have, I want the watch to remind me to experience the joy of time--to receive the ephemeral gift of being born.

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