Recently, I came across a new blog that I am crazy about. It is called HerAfter.com. The author, Rachael Yahne, had cancer and is a writer and blogger (obviously) living in New York. After years as a fashion journalist (a girl after my own heart!), she now writes women’s lifestyle articles about life, love, style, and life after not just cancer, but all of life’s big challenges (we are kindred spirits!). Her latest post is about the Illusion of Time. She had me at the title. One of the things that FBC did to me was demonstrate loudly and clearly that time is indeed an illusion. Rachel’s blog post on this exact topic is spot on and incredibly inspiring. She generously allowed me to share her piece. Hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!
The Illusion of Time
Have you ever resolved to lose weight, then felt frustrated when, three weeks in, you hadn’t lost every pound?
Have you ever bought a skin cream that promises overnight results?
Have you ever decided to learn a new language or a new skill, then found yourself resenting the snail’s pace of the learning curve?
What an argumentative conversation with time we’ve created; it’s more of a war than a romance. Always feeling there’s not enough time in the day. Always searching for the ‘right time: The right time to have kids. The right time to switch careers.
We are both obsessed with and controlled by our fascination with fast-moving instant results. Because of it, we no longer work in sync with the actual pace of time. A minute to receive an email feels like an eternity. A delivery of a few days is just too long to wait. We complain when our downloads, our uploads, our texts and calls and connections don’t move quickly enough. We’re frustrated and angry when any of our efforts don’t produce rewards instantaneously. We’ve completely forgotten the value of a journey in favor of an end.
In truth, we cannot control the pace to which things naturally move, be they our bodily constitution or our mind’s functioning; in fact demanding any part of life to move to the beat of childish impatience is only an act of disrespect toward life itself. We tell it “hurry up!” “I can’t wait!” when in fact nature is begging of us “slow down, you will see I have a system in place. Every step must be taken in turn.” A bird does not traverse the sky in a single flap of wings. We cancer survivors were given a crash course in ‘time’, not only because the amount we had left on earth was threatened, but also because you wouldn’t believe the extent to which the mind can see an IV’s drip pace as aggravatingly and pompously slow. Drip, you jerk…
Those ‘makeover myths’ of instant gratification, those overnight products and instant slimmers and fast income miracles, they are just dangled carrots, designed to be always out of reach but just tempting enough to chase. Theoretically, yes, you could take the ‘easy route’ of spending your hard earned cash on overnight skin clearers or expensive juice fasts. But these are easy not because they offer the desired results effortlessly; they are easy because they make it so simple to excuse inaction. They make it so simple to stay in the repetitive cycle of the myth.
The alternative? Acquiescing to this moment, appreciating it for what it is, and working with it rather than against it. True emotional freedom from the punishment of our self-conceived concepts of time lies in realizing where you are, right here in this moment, and beginning the work needed right here and now.
I don’t believe in time in the conventional sense of clocks and calenders. I don’t believe in the linear aspect of it because from everything I’ve learned in books and yoga and meditation and fromEckhart Tolle and Rumi and Timothy Ferriss and Elizabeth Gilbert and everyone I respect, there IS no time, not in the counting sense. There is only now.
Every day is every single other day. In other words, everything you do today is a culmination of every day that has proceeded this one. And every single thing you do today influences all future days. If you do nothing today, nothing happens tomorrow. If you do today what you did yesterday, including all the bad habits of every day of every year of your life up until this moment, you will be the same tomorrow. TODAY is habitual equation of every single other day forward and backward and past and future and up and down and in and out.
But this shouldn’t be terrifying; it should be liberating. It doesn’t mean that we are trapped in a cycle. It means we are free of the cycle, because of the cycle. The cycle is our liberation, not our cage. We are not stuck in a rat wheel of repetition forced to do the same things day in and day out. On the contrary! We are free to change our existence every single day in every single moment. We are given that beautiful and perfect opportunity every single day! Because everything we do affects everything we did before (our relationship with the past) and everything we will do (the impact of today’s action on tomorrow) we are free to redefine and redesign and rediscover our lives in every single step of our lives, throughout all of our time.
The secret to true makeovers, mental or physical or lifestyle, is never any product. It’s action. The secret to happiness and reaching your goals is action today. It’s what you do right here and right now. It’s choosing your mood, your behavior, and choosing, with consciousness, your actions in this moment. It’s doing something new that you wanted to do yesterday but didn’t. It’s accomplishing the necessary tasks today to live a life of love and excitement. It’s embracing RIGHT NOW as your opportunity and liberation, not tomorrow. Not yesterday.
Today is the most empowering day of your life. As you read this, you are in your chance to make a difference. To live. To do your work. To make this life everything you want.
Take the steps today, in this moment, to build the life you dream of. Every bite you take, every message you tell yourself in the mirror, every look and touch you give your body and soul is in your full control. Learn to embrace the moment, the journey, and the beautiful pace of time, and realize patience, like everything, is a practice of knowing that this beautiful, fleeting moment will pass. And before you know it, your time to live will pass right by too.
- Each time you sit down to eat, tell yourself: “THIS bite is my chance to take control and take care of myself.” Relish every flavor. Know that every time you choose something healthy over something unhealthy is a victory. Know that every time you fall off the wagon and give in to the cupcake is just a chance to indulge because rewards are needed too (not a reason to punish yourself) and make a better decision next time.
- Each time you begin to doubt yourself your will power, tell yourself: “THIS moment is my chance to train my mind.” Know that will power is built up, not acquired instantaneously. Like everything, it is practice; a muscle that must be strengthened before it can be flexed.
- Each time a negative message comes into your mind, gently and lovingly push it out. Tell yourself:“THIS moment is my chance clear out my mind and heart of negativity.” Replace it with gratitude, for any or everything. In every moment that we chose positive gratitude over negative self-judgment, we clear the way for a brighter character tomorrow. And yes, it’s a choice!