14 July 2022
It was early this morning. I was standing in front of the window having my coffee, when I noticed the leaking water tap in the garden. I remembered that I had told myself on the first of January this year that I would fix it. I had kept reminding myself each day, only to say, “Okay, I will do it tomorrow”.
Tomorrow never came.
We are over halfway through 2022. So much that has already happened, and a lot more will probably take place in the remaining months of the year. I think it’s fair to say that we are living in uncertain times, playing a waiting game, watching for what the future holds.
When and how did we get to this point? All of a sudden, with no advance warning? How will the rest of the year unfold? How do we make the most of what’s left?
Some people may feel like they have been robbed of time. Others knew what they were doing and when to do it, because they appreciated the value of time and identified it as an asset in life.
I can’t help but recall what Alice Walker wrote in The Colour Purple: “Time moves slowly but passes quickly.” I guess it’s human nature to feel like a year is a very long time when it’s ahead of us; when it’s behind us, we always wonder where it went.
Milestones on the road
The year from now and the year before now are exactly the same in duration. They are both 12 months or 52 weeks or 365 days. What makes the year behind us seem shorter than the one ahead is that we have experienced and lived it. So many reference points, regardless of what they are, can be skipped over or revisited at will.
On the other hand, what makes the year ahead of us seem so long – so that we fall into the trap of thinking that we will always have more of it, that “we still have time” – is that we lack an identifiable, tangible measure or framework for it. Without one, it’s hard to get a grip on how long this period will be or what it will feel like. Without one, how can we genuinely perceive what time really is?
The ancient Greeks have been among the few able to identify the concept of time and break its code. Time, for them, was either embodied by Chronos or Caerus – what some call chronos time and kairos time. Understanding the vast difference between the two may help people to start perceiving time in a much more productive manner.
Chronos waits for no-one
Chronos is the quantitative aspect of time. As with anything they can count, people tend to worry about whether they have enough chronos time. That’s why we say things like, “Don’t waste time”, “Time waits for no-one”, and “Time is money”.
Such a perception of time can be very constraining, not to mention stressful. We may eventually feel overwhelmed trying to control time. Forever playing catchup, we can lose sight of long-term goals and find decision-making and action more difficult.
Many of us resort to saying “I have no time” when it comes to allocating slots in our days for
productive and beneficial tasks that will eventually lead to our long-term goals – if we made time to identify them in the first place. We are too engrossed in chronos time, in the materialistic dimension of our life: work, bills, errands, the list goes on.
Opportunity knocks: “It’s Caerus, let me in!”
Caerus was the Greek god of opportunity and the associated term, kairos, their conception of the qualitative aspect of time. Archery inspired the concept, and in particular that instant the archer recognises his or her chance to shoot and hit their target.
When you really think about that image of the archer and what it implies, you gain a new perspective on life. That perfect moment followed time spent in calm, close focus and full dedication to the task at hand. Rest assured, every moment that the archer maintained such a persistently goal-directed state was genuine, priceless, and meaningful.
I have humbly come to believe that we must always keep a close eye on chronos or else it may devour us whole. To make more of our time, to truly grasp its potential, we have to put it in its place – to perceive it as an asset we can use wisely or waste instead.
Maybe, we can start that process by asking ourselves whether we are productive or just busy? Do we have a purpose, a long-term goal? Why do we get up in the morning? (It’s surely not to have breakfast and pass the day running errands.) Are we happy where we work and how we live? Are we going about life doing what makes us happy and content and contributes to other people’s lives?
I look around. I see people who remain calm and content, who also seem to be doing pretty well in their businesses and careers. They are the people who remain focused, who have realised that time is the asset! They are steadfast to their cause and purpose. They have made the time to realise their goals in a fast-paced world with social media and technology bombarding us every single second of our day.
I am still at my window gazing at the water tap. The immediate area has changed dramatically since that day in January that I noticed a leak. The ground underneath the tap has split, giving way to growing green stems and a bunch of colourful flowers.
It was definitely not like that back in January! Yet, the water drops kept falling to the earth, one after the other, through the changing seasons, first cold then hot. They did not stop; they kept going. While many of us were overwhelmed by all we had to do and were running about after this or that, with no real outcomes to show for it, the water was persistent, calm, and disciplined. It spent its time wisely, so to speak, as it leaked from the tap.
It seems to me the water drops were engrossed in their kairos. And I take my hat off to those few of us who, like them, maintain their vision of “life quality” and just keep going. Time is a valuable asset. Think of spending it wisely, productively, and genuinely. Ask yourself, what if I could trap time in a bottle? How would I use it?
This article was inspired by Dr. Josep F. Mària.
Khaled is an experienced business development professional with a long track record developing new markets for multinationals in financial services, health insurance, FMCG, and business services, both locally and on a wider scale in the Middle East, Africa, eastern Europe, and the Levant. He has hands-on expertise in both direct and corporate sales, as well as marketing. Khaled joined AIMS International Egypt in 2021 and applies his varied expertise to growing its international business.