We usually know time from changes in nature. We observe that the earth circles around the sun, and we call it “a year”. Then we have the seasons that can be such a subtle reminder that time flies. The earth turns around its axis and we call it “one day”. To get more precise with the time measurements, we invented hours, minutes, seconds, as subdivisions of the day.
But there are particular moments in life when we know time from changes in people. If for some reason, the earth lost contact with the sun and our nature-related time units would become meaningless, then I imagine we would be able to measure time by looking at the changes in people around us.
These particular moments when we get the time awareness by looking at the changes in people, are the moments of return, return to our childhood land. You see “years” in the white hair of a primary school colleague who used to have crow-black hair; or in the news that the neighboring house is now empty since the neighbor is no longer alive; you see “seasons” in the big belly of a pregnant friend who you haven’t met for a long time; you see all the days, hours, minutes, and seconds that you have been away from home when you hug your dad and feel the weakness of his growing-old body.
In these moments of return, in order to cope with all these changes in people, I become in the daily life as “yogi” as I am on the mat. I salute the Indian logic as serene as I salute the sun in a Sun Salutation: what is not real in the beginning or at the end, is not real in the middle either. You know time was not real prior to the Big Bang when all the matter was condensed in one spot. There was no observer to acknowledge time then! And you know time will cease as well fifteen billion years from now when the universe will come to its end. Then too, no human mind will be there to observe the end of time. As we know from Einstein’s relativity, time is depended on the observer: no observer to witness it, no time. Therefore, according to the Indian logic, time is not real, it does not exist. Time did not exist at the beginning, will not exist in the end, therefore it cannot be real in the middle either. It is a construct. Time is the child of our minds.
That’s why, beyond an open heart, I would say yogis have another super-power: to dissolve time. Once you dissolve your mind on the mat, time will also vanish with it. At least for a while until your mind returns.
This summer, returning to my hometown, I have tried to see the people I love beyond all their transformations, beyond the passage of time: Geo, the pregnant woman, she will always be my friend although her body and status are changing; my love for my neighbor is still there in my heart although she is not there in her house anymore; my dad will always remain the person who gave me life and taught me the good, the bad and the ugly in this life, regardless the wrinkles, weight loss or illnesses.
My friend, my neighbor, my dad, your dad, the crow-black haired colleague, you, me, we are all so real while time is not. Let’s enjoy the seasons changing, keep an eye on the watch to be punctual, make the best thing out of our time. But always remember: we are all beyond time.