Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Time Vanishes

I remember participating in a women's evening potluck about ten years ago when we were asked to go around the room and introduce ourselves and tell the group something about us that really caught our interest. I forget what I answered. I had interests - many of them. But a couple of women talked not just about something that interested them. They mentioned "When I do (whatever - painting, gardening, writing) I lose myself. I forget time. I come to after awhile and I've been in a different place. It sounded mystical, transformative. I wanted that. And I wasn't experiencing that.

It was the kind of thing that I felt that I should be able to get. It sounded like runner's high. In all the years I ran, I never experienced that, either. I was disciplined. I went out early every morning, through all kinds of weather. I got a little faster, could go a little farther - saw some progress. But I'll be darned if those endorphins ever kicked in - unless you count how good the shower felt when I got home again, and the virtuous feeling I had that I'd made myself do something good for me.

It was the same when I tried to meditate. I fidgeted, I made myself sit and practice letting thoughts go - but it was almost impossible for me to get to that place that you read about - the place of refreshment, revelation. If I were honest with myself, I had to admit that I couldn't quite see what all the hoopla was about. I must not be doing something right.

I think many of us lead lives that fall a little short of what we'd like for ourselves. We try various things, we decide that either they don't work for us or that other people are exaggerating. We give up and settle.

But I am here to offer you encouragement. There are times when I now know exactly what those women were talking about. It has been a long time coming. And I can't tell you what it is that works. But I've had the experience of losing the sense of time, of immersion in something that I was working on that was absolutely fascinating to me. I know that it has to do with many small steps, reading and listening to a number of suggestions, coming back over and over again to ideas that seemed to be useful but that I'd drop when I got busy or stressed.

Perhaps the first step is acknowledging there is something we want for our lives. Being in the moment, losing sense of time is treasure.

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