This one is especially for you if you feel behind all the time. Struggle to keep up. Are always late. Late to the meeting, late to the party, late to bloom, late to this thing called life.
And it’s especially for you if you exhale with sweetness when you can just go … at … your … pace. Putter. Luxuriate into unscripted time. Have space. Space between meetings, between words, in your mind, in your life.
Let me assert to you, your timing is divine.
However. The kind of timing that most of us know and spar with on the daily, doesn’t feel particularly spacious or transcendent. It usually feels rushed, cramped, and uncomfortably bunched up.
The kind of timing that most of us know and spar with on the daily, is ruled by Kronos.
Kronos is the god of linear time. Kronos is a Greek god who ruled when time was viewed as a destructive, all-devouring force.
The word ‘chronological’ comes from Kronos. When time is chronological, one thing follows the next. There is cause, and then there is the effect of that cause. There is a before and an after, and before comes before after.
In Kronos time, events progress neatly and predictably in a line, from start to finish. Logically.
Kronos time is the kind of time most of us live inside of, and strive to create and connect and bloom and grow, inside of.
The other week, I came to talk to my son’s 7th grade class about writing. Parents and locals who are writers were invited in to speak about our creative process as the kids spent their week writing short stories and poetry.
I talked to the kids not so much about the creative process itself, but about impediments to the creative process. What comes up when we start to write and stops our writing — doubts, blocks, resistance, insecurities.
One student shared that they felt a tremendous amount of frustration when they tried to start at the beginning of their story. They shared that only a few lines in and they felt anguished and lost, their creative impulse destroyed.
This student had read hundreds of books, of course, and noticed there was a list of chapters, from 1 to 20 or whatever. They noticed there was a prologue or introduction at the beginning of the book, so that is where they assumed they were supposed to start.
This student was attempting to write their short story in a similar kind of linear fashion: start with the beginning, move on to the middle, and finally, the end.
Which might work fine for some writers or creatives or other humans. But it’s also not usually the way our minds work, not the way our hearts work, nor how the winding, wild creative process works.
In the few moments I had with these students, I tried to give them a sense that they could start anywhere and then go anywhere, and that eventually, they could knit it all together and it would take a shape and a form that felt right.
That if they were anguished by the Kronos-infused idea that they must start at the beginning, then they could toss that idea aside and pick up another one that fit them better.
Without having time to say it fully, I was holding back the curtain of standard-issue reality for these 12-year-olds saying, Look. There’s something different than Kronos time that you can slip into and write. Behold Kairos time.
Kairos means divine. Kairos is Divine Time.
In Divine Time, things do not go in a straight line, they go around and around. Up and down, backwards and forwards and back again. Divine Time lazes in spirals, dizzies us in circles.
At the moment when we think we’ve gone and really learned some life lesson, really healed some important past wound and then, here it comes up again for another pass for our examination or refinement, not the same as it was, but also not gone for good … that’s Kairos at play.
Kronos time is about quantity — there are a certain number of minutes in an hour or a day or a year, after all. Clocks measure this, quite reliably. Well, apparently it’s the half-life of radioactive materials that actually measure things and then inform the clocks, but I digress.
Kairos time is about quality. You know you’re in Kairos time when you experience the ‘flow state’ of a good groove with writing, being in ‘the zone’ with a workout or a hike, the feeling of time stopping and being drenched with richness as you notice the poetry of the curve of your child’s cheek or your lover’s wrist.
Some amount of time does pass in Divine Time, but it goes quicker or slower than we wish for or are prepared for or have planned for.
Preparations are for Kronos time. Being a vessel for what wishes to be created and expressed through you, is for Kairos time. Plans are for Kronos time. The transcendence of a chorus of birds rejoicing over a sunset, brings us into Divine Time.
Many years ago, one of my mentors used to remind me, when I was late for a meeting or repeating a shitty pattern with some guy I was dating: “Your timing is elegant and perfect.”
Her assertion stopped me mid self-criticism, as all good Kairos reminders do.
What if my lateness wasn’t simply a problem, but was elegantly, perfectly part of some arc of experience that wasn’t amiss, it just looked differently than expected, leaving room for the unexpected, the emergent, that would make the meeting or the moment better, richer, sweeter?
What if my stumbling with romance wasn’t simply an indication of my shortcomings, but elegantly, perfectly part of some arc of learning that wasn’t amiss, but was growing at the pace it needed to, like all flowers and babies and bees do?
Over the years, I have taken my mentor’s assertion about time to heart. To body. To soul. But I’ve changed it, adapted it slightly. To this:
Your timing is divine.
So, when you feel late, amiss, a problem, all wrong, allow me to remind you that your timing is divine.
OK, you might be late to that meeting, and maybe you need to figure out how to play better with Kronos and get there 5 minutes early next time.
In fact, as someone who has a lifelong struggle with being on time to meetings, I have made a spiritual practice of arriving a few minutes early. I set reminders and timers and all kinds of sensible things, and I do these Kronos-y things because I have a better experience when I’m not rushing. I enjoy my fellow humans more. I like myself more.
When I have too little QUANTITY of time, I’m a stingy asshole to other drivers. I don’t let people with two items in their grocery basked in front of me in line. I grow impatient at the slow cashier.
But when I bring the QUALITY of spaciousness to my trek to the meeting, I am generous. Humorous. Content. Receptive to tiny joys.
So what if all this is about recognizing that your learning, your growth, your budding and blooming have a pace and a timing that is divine. It is right on time. It knows what it is doing.
What if all this is a reminder that you can start anywhere and then go anywhere, and that eventually, you will knit it all together and it will take a shape and a form that feels right to you.
What if all this is an invitation to trust-fall back into the arms of Kairos, to get in the flow, to get in the zone, to see time not just as a destructive force but as a generative one, a force that is carrying you along your creative, learning, growing path, at precisely the pace that’s precisely right for you?