Ars longa, vita brevis. Ever hear this expression? It translates to mean: Art is long, but time is short. It's why I am here less and less, writing to you, because I find I am needing more time for my own creative projects. Sometimes it's a struggle to find the "sweet spot" in balancing work to make money and making work. Time just for being, to sit still in the stillness and silence.
Most creative people I meet find themselves in a similar struggle. They have so many ideas and desires for projects–––writing, painting, woodworking, baking, gardening, reading about their craft, even relaxing enough to allow for the rumination of ideas, and, maybe more importantly, for just resting, allowing the muses to inspire.
I get it!
I'm away from home now, taking advantage of my friend's empty house for some quiet time to work and write and walk in nature and sit. If I'm honest, walking in nature is what I want most. I am walking with purpose these days, gradually building myself up for a pretty long walk. (More details to come.) On this morning's walk, I was clipping along at a pace, thinking about time, why I seem to need more and more of it, beating myself up about how I spend time or waste time or fail at making good use of my time, as in being efficient, thinking about ways I can try and save time. My language regarding time, I notice, is often connected to framing time as a resource. I use money-related verbs in my contemplation of time–––to spend, to waste, to save, and to bank. It makes sense. Time is a valuable resource. But the language I use frames time from a scarcity perspective.
Since I turned 60 last summer, I find myself despairing about how much time I have left in this earthbound body (as if I could predict such a thing). I tend to view time as if I am "spending it down." This way of thinking, again from a scarcity stance, bothers me. I wonder what might happen, if instead, I could think about time more in terms of abundance. Has anyone else ever thought about this?
I took my question to Google. I plugged in time and perception and found several interesting studies. One study, by Dr. Melanie Rudd, gives us research that connects the value of awe in one's life as a means to slow down time. She found that experiments in awe gave her subjects a feeling of what she calls, time affluence. I looked up everything I could find from this scholar to learn more. I found her way of looking at life kindred to what I was seeking.
Here are three short video clips about what she learned. She talks about the antidote to "time famine," increased creativity, the difference between awe vs. happiness, and how to cultivate meaningfulness as a way to better health. It appears it isn't about the amount of time spent that brings meaning, but more how the value of meaningful time spent gives the sense of a slowing down of time.
There's so much buzz around the notion of awe. Awe experiences we have sensed or felt to be true are now backed by scientific studies, thus somehow legitimizing or proving what the body has been telling us all along. Readers may have come across the work of Dechner Keltner. If not, here's a great interview with Kelter and Tami Simon at Sounds True. It's very much worth your time. (Insert the winky face emoji here.)
This is a lot of video-watching! Plenty to get you started, but maybe take time in between your watching to look around you and find just a smidgeon of awe.
~ After taking a look at one or all of these videos, take yourself outside for an experience of awe. Go to a beautiful place in nature and walk. Sit and breathe in a quiet place where maybe the only sounds you hear come from the wind in the trees and the return of the songbirds. Sit by a waterfall. Watch a baby or a group of children play in a park. Take in a local art show. Stand in front of a glorious painting and breath. Get tickets to a concert with friends and close your eyes for an entire song.
~ Make sure to allow yourself a moment within the framework of that experience to slow everything down. Take a few deep long breaths. See yourself outside of the experience. Look inside the experience at what you look like having it. Take a few more deep long breaths. I call this "attuning to awe.
~ Finally, pull out a pen and paper, or a blank canvas of some sort and some art supplies, or some rocks on a beach, and record what you experienced. What did you notice about the way you felt in the moment of awe, but also, what did you sense about time?
~ Do you feel richer or poorer having given yourself the gift of awe?
~ You can more of what I've written about awe, right here...
~ As a bonus, but more watching, I suggest taking in a wonderful film, The Tree of Life some rainy Saturday or at night. There are many themes at play here around the notions of time, how to spend it, and how to perhaps reclaim what's been lost. Then write about it.
~ Jodi xo