Time Compaction," and "Now Time." - Lori]
by David Spangler - A number of years ago I took part in a small conference that had the
encouraging title “You Were Born for Such a Time as This!” The theme of
this event was focused on the potentials for creative living and success
that each of us have within us. Sitting on a panel waiting my turn to
speak, my thoughts went in a different direction, though. What, I
thought, was meant by “such a time as this?”
Clearly the conference organizers had a couple of things in mind. One
was the economic crisis facing the United States and the world at
large. Another was the general sense of transformation abroad in the
land as old habits and ways of doing things confronted a rapidly
changing world that demanded new approaches and solutions. But not
everyone was experiencing “this time” in exactly that way.
For instance, my youngest son works in a store located in a local
shopping mall. When I went to visit him one day recently, I discovered
the mall was filled with shoppers for whom no economic recession seemed
to be happening at all. The happy faces of people moving in and out of
the shops purchasing things bore no relationship to the news of job
layoffs, unemployment, and stores going bankrupt that I had just seen on
the evening news before coming to the shopping center.
So what was “such a time as this?” For the people in that mall, it
did not appear to be one of economic hardship. That got me thinking
about time not as past, present and future but as the unique condition
that each of us inhabits. For instance, as I go outside after a long
winter and glory in the sunshine and spring flowers, a friend of mine in
Australia is putting on warmer clothes and preparing for the growing
cold of winter. His time, his season, is not the same as mine.
I had taken my place at the panel not knowing what I was going to
say. But when my turn came, I knew I would begin by saying, “We do not
live in one time. We live in four of them.” The subject of this essay
then flowed from that thought.
We inhabit four times. The first of these is World Time.
This is the time we all commonly share by virtue of being on earth at
the beginning of the twenty-first century. This is the time the
conference organizers had in mind when they came up with the phrase,
“You were born for such a time as this!” This is the time as portrayed
by national news broadcasts and other media; it is the collective
history we are all living. This time is one of global climate change,
threats to the ecology, economic recession and meltdown, wars and
terrorism, and the possibilities of pandemics. It is also a time of
space flights, globalization, cures for ancient diseases, and the
development of a planetary mind electronically mediated through the
Internet and planetary communication technology. It is a time when the
challenges and the opportunities are world-size and humanity is truly
experiencing itself as a planetary species.
World time is what humanity as a whole experiences, and the challenge
is with its scale. Over and over again, I hear people asking me, “How
can I make a difference? The problems are so vast and I am just one
person. What can I do?” And the answer individually, at least at a
physical level, would appear to be, “not much.” There is very little
that my actions by themselves, however enlightened, will do to stop the
loss of the arctic ice, restore millions of lost jobs, or halt terrorism
around the world. Even the President of the United States, arguably the
most powerful individual on earth, cannot by himself accomplish these
To inhabit world time is to feel overwhelmed and possibly
disempowered for the world is so large and we are so small. If it is the
only time to which we pay attention, we can risk going a little crazy.
Everything can seem so out of control, rushing towards one catastrophe
or another carrying us along with it.
And we cannot avoid it. We are part of the world, and world time
impacts us in various ways irresistibly, unstoppably, and impersonally.
By contrast, the second time that we live in is very personal. It is your time and my time. It is Individual Time. It is what we are experiencing—the challenges and opportunities we are facing—in our own personal lives.
When my youngest daughter was born, my wife’s sister was with us to
help. In advanced stages of liver cancer, she had only a couple of
months yet to live. I will never forget Merrily holding Maryn, each in
their own very different individual time, a life going out cradling a
life coming in, love flowing between them both.
In any given neighborhood, there are those being born, those who are
dying, those who are getting their first job, those who are retiring
from their last one; there are some who are losing everything and others
finding abundance; there are those experiencing despair and those
knowing hope and promise.
Personal time takes the events of world time and translates them into
the unique contours of our individuality. The result may move in
directions very different from the world at large. Prosperity may be
everywhere yet I may be facing bankruptcy; economies are failing, yet I
may be generating wealth.
The key is that, unlike world time, individual time is lived at a
human scale. I may not feel I can influence the world but I can
definitely influence my own life. My decisions, my intentionality, my
actions—or my lack of the same—can immediately and profoundly change
what happens in the sphere of personal time. Although events can seem
overwhelming in my life, I still know that potentially I can make a
difference. I possess the ability to choose and to act. World time can
seem to be the product of vast, impersonal forces but individual time is
hand-made, so to speak.
Personal time is the time we are most concerned with. Events in the
world at large may trouble or inspire us, but it’s the challenge of our
jobs, of meeting the mortgage, of keeping healthy, of raising a family,
and of putting food on the table that will consume most of our
attention. This individual time is made up of ordinary tasks, most of
them repeated in one way or another each day.
The third time we inhabit is less obvious than either of the other
two. Personal, individual time is in our face daily and world time is
all about us in the news of events transpiring on our globe. But there
is a Deep Time or a New Time that is within us and within the world, and it is where the power of transformation lies. Read More