via Wikimedia Commons
My time can’t be wasted anymore. At least, it can’t be wasted by me in the way that frustrated me all those years when I was sitting awkwardly on a pile of my own thought and ambition. I’ve let most of that go.
I don’t go all mindfully-blissful moment to moment without any overriding framework, although perhaps I should. At least my framework isn’t completely bound up with my ego (my concepts of myself) anymore. It’s a concept of limited time that drives our engagement, my created limits that I have imposed on our relationship.
I think you should have these types of limits too.
I can help for a little while.
One of my secret happinesses is that, once I’ve decided to give someone a certain amount of time, I don’t care any more what they do with it. Some people only get a certain amount of time from me, and although I can help them and boost them up in an infinite amount of ways, I’ll also be obliging and seek whatever truth I can from whatever little thing their little ambitions and closed hearts have dreamt up. I don’t mean to be (too) demeaning… all our things are little and come from little ambitions.
What do you want to do? Do you want to talk politics, debate the left versus the right? Should I take care of that little annoyance that you think you’re too important for? You want me to listen to your complaints, your problems, and your issues… and you? I’ll be happy to dig into whatever vibe you’ve got going, to pretend-play whatever role you think I should be. We can do this.
The limits of my time for most people is the same sort of conscious oversight I try to apply to my diet, with the same sort of varying success. But the diet is easier, because the clinging stickiness of desire coming out of a slice of pizza is tamer and can only catch me if I’m too unaware. The attachment of social contracts bears the heavier weights of ego validation and social esteem, carries maps of career advancement and notoriety. A slice of pizza is much less complicated, but wins more – because it doesn’t try to be sneaky about it. I’m turned off by attempted sneakiness.
Whatever you think I can be for you, I might be willing to be that for a bit of the world’s spinning. It’s all a learning experience. I can be a professional web developer, I can be a business counselor, I can be a life coach. I can be a therapist, I can be a friend. I can be a human in the ways of the social world. I’d prefer that you and I just have a moment of honest coexistence, without posturing and roles, but I’m happy regardless because these are my crafts. Close your eyes to my soul if you will, and I’ll close mine back to yours and focus on my crafts. For a little while.
Out of time! I have to get going.
I give other people, like my son, as much time I can. If I don’t find occasion to play blocks and create new things, I risk being sunk in old thought and thinking pleasure. He doesn’t get a limit, but rather a minimum that’s always bigger than the caps other people get. That’s about him, but also about me – he possesses such wisdom to give me.
I need to give myself some time too. If I don’t find occasion to center and witness the world, I risk attachment and suffering. I don’t get a cap either, just a minimum.
Between the minimums and the flurry of caps appearing and disappearing in my non-spiritual framework, my time is very limited indeed for most people. I don’t want it to be that way and am sorry if I’m rude about it, but a lot of people call for my attention. I have to set limits that mean I only have a little bit of time to give most callers, because underneath the framework I’ve dreamed up is my life.
Underneath the transactional standpoint of interaction, there’s not much thought any more. Just the experiencing of the moment. I might get tense or bound up sometimes, but I just roll back into the crashing waves of life when the tide goes back out to sea. I’m working on that tenseness and binding in meditation and by building Lego castles with my son. That’s why there’s minimums; they keep the transactional relationships suppressed to just a small part of my awareness.
Sometimes I have a little smile when I tell people that I’ve got to get back to work. Or that I already have plans. Or that I need to have some time to myself. The smile says… sure, yes, I understand your need and I’ve tried to help. I can see what you’re talking about. Uh-huh, okay, I’ll try again the next time I circle back to this posture and our little relationship. But then, as now, I can only work on it for a little while.
Sorry, I already have plans.
I’m almost unhindered by the requests and questions of work when I’m not working. I’m almost unhindered by the requests and questions of extended family and friends when I’m isolated. The key is complete isolation from the web of technology. Turn off the phone, turn off the email. Just keep clear of anything that might pull you into that role and occupancy. Once you’re clean, if you keep clear, all those rambling needinesses don’t usually rise again in your head.
I’m a hard man to get a hold of, but I’m working on becoming harder to find. Constant availability is great in business and horrible for people.
And the best thing about giving a gift of time without caring what it’s spent on? It’s not an emotional issue for me anymore when someone has a stupid question (read: a question you could have answered on your own) or a trivial and pointless bit of work (read: work you could have done on your own). Instead, they’re just chances for me to practice my crafts. Instead of becoming angered or irritated, I find myself more and more amused at what poor spenders of time I see all about me.
It is funny, once you gain distance from it. Watch and you’ll see the little games that people play. People inventing work to avoid working on what needs attention. People trying to pass off or allocate work because they think it won’t come back to them again if somebody else takes care of it. People trying to use business relationships for personal advancement, and people trying to use personal relationships for business advancement. Where’s the soul in any of it? It’s still there but the truth is hard for people to hear.
But I’ll see you tomorrow.
I spend a good amount of very important time building Lego castles with my son, just to tear them down and make them again with different bridges and towers. I also spend a good amount of time building business and technology infrastructures with my colleagues and clients, just to tear those down and make them again with different bridges and towers. I also spend a good amount of time talking about relationships, spirituality, about reading, writing, and education with my friends and family. Builders and buildings, unfixed paintings made of colored sand.
Most of the builders are just passing the time, just putting off the work of life behind created work and trivialities. Some aren’t, and my son’s one of these wiser few. He realizes he’s not the temporary castle. He’s not this concept, he’s not this achieved work. He’s the first to tear it down and start again. Because he is the builder. He’s the artist. He’s the creator, not the created. As am I. As are you.
People are poor spenders of time when they think they’re building permanent buildings out of Legos. In almost every way people approach us, they’re just asking for confirmation of what they think they are. Or they’re asking for ways to make more money with less work, which is really just such a confirmation. They want these things now and think we have them to give. Perhaps we do. Let’s try to help them, because they won’t see that what they want is worthless until they have it.
Let’s let ourselves get briefly caught up in their mad fever. Let’s laugh a little – or a lot – at the absurdity of these efforts. But let’s keep it brief. Over time, we can make huge castles together, but the tide is coming back in. It’ll smash our little Lego castles and wash out our paintings without a doubt.
As for me? I have to go now, although I’ve sincerely enjoyed our time together. I’m going to build a giant, awesome Lego castle with my son. Then we’ll destroy it. But we’ve got to hurry, because we’re leaving in a bit and it’s much more fun to destroy huge and elaborate castles than quickly-built, ill-made ones.