The Art of Time

A human life “expectancy” in the modern Western world is something like 2.5 giga-seconds. This might seem like a lot, but those seconds soon run out. Until we hit the 1 giga-second mark we rarely pay much heed to our own mortality. After that it starts to get more apparent, stuff starts to stop working quite so well. Our sojourn here is limited and most of us do not use it as well as we might. I could say that we waste time, spend it unwisely and in a profligate manner. For some there is an urge to cram as much stuff as is possible into that time window, we may not be discerning about the quality rather gimme some quantity. Whether we like to admit it or not we are all making decisions about how we use our time all of the time. We can be hasty and impatient, we can procrastinate and dither. We could watch endless news coverage on Brexit and thereby reduce our will to live. How we use our time is, to an extent, up to us. If you want to get a little more focus then I can recommend getting cancer, in this respect. It teaches that there is only so much sand in the hourglass.

But what I want to address here is the idea of “give it time”. I can use two real-world examples.

If you do a degree in say physics or chemistry, you might get first class honours, which could encourage you to believe that you are smart and have it sussed. Then maybe you start a Ph.D. Pretty soon you are brought face to face with the fact, that theory and application differ. You ain’t quite so smart as you have professed to all and sundry. After about three years of toil, frustration and some success, you start to appreciate that text-book knowledge and real-world application are not one and the same thing. Maybe for about a day or so, after three years or more of effort, you are the world expert in the subject of your thesis. You have to “give it time” in order to learn your craft. Even after that, in the world of science, you are still a bit of a novice, though your ego might say otherwise.

Say you start a martial art like karate, ninjutsu or aikido. Your motives will vary according to temperament. Maybe you covet that black-belt status so that you can deem yourself hard. Pretty soon you start to realise that it takes constant effort. In your martial arts journey, you won’t just learn how to throw a shuriken, but a whole bunch of other stuff about yourself as well. Until you have done about three years you will not really have scratched the surface. After about three years, you have something of an inkling.

In each of these examples by “giving it time” you have what I call a learning journey. If you throw your toys out of the cot, the moment the going gets tough, then you do not learn anything new. If you stick with it then maybe you get out of the cot, onto the nursery floor and thence to a wider world.

The Art of Time is knowing when to “give it time” and when not to. Which of course leads back to paths and journeys

Having cued this up there is one question:

To what am I currently giving my time?

Male Insecurity

I hinted at this in the last post, and to my eyes it is a big problem in our times. Insecure men tend to over compensate in order to be more macho and appear tougher. They tend to be full of bravado and braggadocio and rather than compete with their fellows they perceive them as threats and so compete against them. It must be so masculine to win. I know that many men have perceived me as a threat and reacted poorly towards me because of this. Insecurity breeds edginess and tension. Not many are comfortable in their own skins or their masculinity. I doubt having large biceps and a big cock makes you all that masculine, they are perhaps an ersatz for this ill-defined quality masculinity. What then are masculine qualities? I would say that openness, vulnerability, caring, warmth, resilience and tenderness are masculine qualities, the ability to problem solve perhaps but in a wide context, are amongst them. These and not being a cardboard cut-out. I don’t know for sure because masculinity is something of a mystery. Is it the war-hero, the fireman or the priest? I am sure that being cold and insecure are not all that masculine. Being puerile about tits and football and cars and beer, is that the epitome?

There is a crisis in masculinity now.

It could be argued that we need a masculinity movement. Something, if only to get men off the porn sites, games consoles and bullshitting addictions. Masculinity is a taboo subject and all the tattoos in the world can’t fix it, nor can groovy beards and grooming products. It does need to be talked about BUT that requires some vulnerability and maybe some tears along the way. The world is changing, and men are struggling to find their place in it.

Male insecurity, a big problem in our times…

Hmnn…

Mettle

Life is not without its challenges and it is through facing these (or not) that we start to discover our mettle, which is related to our true colours. Our mettle is time varying, in that at one time or another it ebbs and flows. It is related to hwyl. In our journey through life, it is this mettle which speaks upon our endeavour as a human being and the totality thereof. Irrespective of outward measurements, mettle it is. Many find that their mettle is not high. Others find that under duress they have hidden reserves of this quality, mettle. It can rise to the surface or it can slope off with a tail between legs.

How each person sees mettle will vary, its context may be seen differently. Deep down we know when we have been found wanting in mettle. We may get to differentiate the qualities and quantities of our mettle, for mettle does have different qualities, it does not come in only one flavour. When we fail to live up to what we might have done in terms of mettle, we know. One could say that mettle is a cousin of backbone and to feel spineless is not pleasant.

Interesting word this, mettle. If we know we have done our impeccable best, then our sense of mettle grows. If we have bottled or been slapdash, it fades. If we have tried to evade or get out of something which we know we need to do, we might have shown cunning but not mettle.

Here are some profound questions:

What is my mettle as a human being?

Have I sight of my true colours?

 

Distraction or Eternal Now?

I have selected various key quotes from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and put them up here, for reference purposes, they can be found under the Patanjali tag. They are pretty old but demonstrate that even then and preceding the science of psychology by millennia, some were very interested in the workings of human mind. In fact, they go beyond psychology which deals mainly with internal dialogue and societal angst. The sutras suggest a path away from a full engagement with the deep involvement in the “concerns” of society. Not all paths point in the same direction. If one seeks to be a “success” in the world of power, position, money and fame; these sutras will not help overmuch. The trappings of society are, in such a yoga context, something of a distraction and to be seen as such. Much of these fall under the generic heading of “mind stuff”.  Most are uninterested in a yoga of this kind. But I’ll bet that the vast majority of humanity could benefit from more peace of mind than it currently has. Peace of mind comes from perspective, the width of which varies. Things out of proportion are unsettling. How far one walks along any given path, is a personal thing. That is unless the sat. nav. tells us. 😉 It is fair to say that some paths diverge markedly. Others appear to diverge but ultimately point at the same things.

Insofar as one can be sure about anything, looking too deeply is not to the predilection of the majority. Such a thing is not on the radar and like all things there can be a time and a place for it. Until one has sufficient life experience, there is a lack of data to work with. One needs to experience life in order to understand it, one can do the theory but without some experiments, living; the theory cannot be understood in any meaningful way.

It is not rocket science to suggest that being fully present in the moment could reap benefits. Modern life is full of distraction. I have on occasion been tempted not to take evasive action when a walking ‘phone zombie approaches along the pavement. The rate of change of momentum they might experience from my stationary 95kg being, on impact, could be interesting to observe. But so far, I have taken the view that I should get out of the way. One of us needs to be partially awake. If one is distracted now whizzes by. There is a growing interest in mindfulness and this is good. It is the doorway to the vast planes of Eternal Now. If one takes a view from space, we might see three countries; the land of if only, the land of now and the land of what if. These are the past, the present and the future. If your mind is in the land of what if or the land of if only, the beauty of now is neither appreciated or engaged with fully. This distraction impinges heavily on the awareness of what is actually transpiring.

The ability to be fully present, wanes in our times. This now is the aim of zen, the concentration, the absorption, the Qualität of living in the moment. This does not need to be reckless or impulsive. One can be a joined up being, having an eye to the future and advised by the past, yet still be now. “What you do in the now creates the future, stepwise”. If you are distracted then you may walk, zombie like, into all sorts of situations. I have mentioned the word focus from time to time and being now is a kind of focus. The zone of the competitive athlete, the fighting awareness of the martial artist are both examples of being fully present at full awareness in the moment. This gives an edge to both awareness, perception and the cognitive assimilation of event flow. Even in the now there are degrees. To sustain these heightened states 24/7 is not possible, but one could be less zombie more zone, rather easily. It takes a little concentration, that is all…