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Rushing, Savoring, Flow States
I’m playing around with an idea. You might like listening to this while you read: For Elena
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In a corner of a vast city, under the canopy of an ancient tree, sat Grandfather Time. Sitting next to him was a boy named Leo, who was as curious as the elder was old.
An hourglass rested by the old man’s side, sand streaming down like a river.
“Grandfather,” began Leo, his voice a gentle melody, “How does time work? Why does it go fast sometimes and slow at others?”
Grandfather Time looked at him with eyes that seemed to have witnessed the birth of stars. "Time, young Leo, is a most intricate thing.
"Rush through it and it will rush on past.
"Try to deceive it by escaping through that little device you hold in your hand, or by other means of distraction, and it will leave you faster than it came.
"The more things you try to cram into it at once, the faster it passes.
"In your stress it shrinks, for it does not appreciate being taken for granted with all of your brooding over the past and worrying of the future.
"But if you listen to Life's music, savoring each note, allowing its rhythm to guide you, it will reward you with a symphony of moments, each more precious and vivid than the last.
"In your relaxation, it makes itself more.
"In your trust, it stretches out before you like an endless summer day.
"Savor, play and be mindful.
"When you slow down, so does your perception of time. As the sages have said, ‘The pace of your breath is the pace of your Life.’"
Leo, with the skepticism that came with youth, tilted his head.
“But Grandfather,” Leo said, showing the watch on his wrist, “my watch tells me that Time always moves at the same speed.”
Grandfather Time, with a smile that held both wisdom and mischief, responded, “Ah, but that device merely repeats a tune. To truly understand Time's song, one must feel it.”
He handed his hourglass to Leo. “Let this guide your days. Move to its beat and see where it leads you.”
Intrigued, Leo set off to do as suggested. The first day he was bored, staring at the hourglass, waiting for it to do something. The second he became angry with the old man. Over the 3rd and 4th day he became thoroughly convinced that Grandfather Time was confused.
But on the 5th day, he started feeling differently about the slow, steady flow of sand falling. He noticed that the amount of sand in the top half had diminished since 5 days ago. And with that, he began to notice other things around him that he'd missed before.
On the 6th day he discovered a cave he had missed along the path he had walked every day of his childhood. He explored it all day. As he walked home that afternoon, he felt the world more keenly, appreciating the wind and winding paths of his hometown.
On the 7th day Leo returned to the tree, his face bearing a transformation. “The world sang a different song these last few days, Grandfather."
The old sage smiled, patiently awaiting the final argument he'd been expecting.
"But there’s one inconsistency in your story." the boy continued. "Why does time fly by when I’m having fun?"
Grandfather Time picked up the hourglass.
"It doesn’t," he said. He set the hourglass down on its side. "That's only your memory of Time. In those moments, when you're having unbridled fun, Time ceases to exist.
"Follow me," he said, standing up and beckoning the boy to follow.
They approached a grand, ornate door, engraved with countless symbols from various ages.
Stopping before it, he looked at the youth and said, "There are certain things that you do that cause you to forget about Time altogether."
"Like when I play games or when I'm exploring," the boy chimed in, smiling.
"That's right. As well when you create music or art. Or one day when you'll work on something that both excites and challenges you. Or when you’re lost in the depths of meaningful conversation. And maybe when you're much older, something that happens between mommies and daddies.
"Some have called this state flow.
"And I couldn't have named it better myself, because it is then and only then that we step into the flow of eternity.
I call it cheating Time.
Grandfather Time opened the door, revealing a room filled with brilliant light, yet empty.
“This,” Grandfather Time whispered as if sharing the world’s oldest secret, “is the NOW.”
Leo stepped in, feeling a sudden rush of emotions. Everything was heightened - sounds, colors, sensations. It was as if he was experiencing life with a clarity he'd never known.
Grandfather Time's voice resonated behind him. "In here, there's no past or future. Only the present moment."
"Wow," Leo said, taking it all in, "Why don’t we spend as much time as possible doing those things?"
"Now you’re starting to think. Why indeed. Like my dad always said, 'Life’s measured not by ticks around the clock, but by the timelessness that we unlock.'"
Leo let that absorb for a moment and then, with eyes wide, asked, "Wait, you have a dad?"
"Oh, that's a whole different story for another day," Grandfather Time said grinning, looking up at the sky.