Shifting our relationship with time

It feels like this is a timely issue – pun intended.

For a while, our experience of time has been shifting.

On the one hand, we are even more conscious of the astonishing pace of life. And wonder if our human frame can flourish here in all its complexity.

Conversely, there is a growing sense of being on the threshold of time itself. Being at a pivot point or watershed when we will say ‘this was before’ and ‘this is after’.

Yet we are here now, straddling this boundary while also wondering how we will stay afloat in the flow.

Perhaps this is the moment to consider what time is asking of us.


Here are three perspectives that may help us sit with these questions:

Firstly, a smile from Parker Palmer, the beloved writer, educator, and activist:

At one community meeting, we ran into a high-conflict issue. We ran out of time and agreed to postpone this issue until the following week. All week, emotions ran high and opposing views intensified. We eagerly assembled at the next meeting, impatient to get this issue resolved. This was a Quaker community – each meeting began with 5 minutes of silence. On this day, the clerk announced that, due to the intensity of this issue, we would not begin with our usual 5 minutes of silence. We all breathed a sigh of relief, only to hear her announce: “Today, we’ll begin with 20 minutes of silence.”

+ Parker Palmer, quoted in Meg Wheatley’s book ‘Perseverance’, and I also think it is in Parker’s book ‘Let your life speak’

Then some thoughtful wisdom from Krista Tippett in the mini-series On Being Foundations: Foundation 3: Taking a Long View of Time, and Becoming ‘Critical Yeast’

This is all another way to talk about planting and growing the generative story of our time: in a noisy, hyper-reactive world, fermenting a “quiet before.”

Finally, an invitation to get thoroughly immersed in our relationship with time through Oliver Burkeman’s excellent book 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. Or, if you want a shorter introduction, listen to his conversation with Krista Tippett on the On Being Podcast Time Management for Mortals.