Satiama Publishing

The True Nature of Time?

The beginning of this calendar year freshly reminds me that we don’t actually live in tidy boxes called days, weeks, months, or years. That is not the true nature of time. It is an artificial construct by which we try to organize and make sense of our lives. We use our boxes of time to measure many things, including things we believe about ourselves, many of which are likely not true. We look back over time to evaluate and judge our life, our memories providing us with ‘travel postcards’ of places we have been, things we have seen, and people we have known.

But we forget to measure or evaluate our life by what we have learned.

The true nature of time is an expanded and always-moving space in which we find ourselves in this moment. We are traveling an eternal and circular path as we continue seeking ourselves and our authentic and expanding nature. Einstein believed that time was an illusion and that the past and future are fixed and unchangeable. Many physicists agree that time is only psychologically but not fundamentally real. I’m not a physicist, but that makes sense to me. But I am not sure I agree with Einstein – and I laugh as I write that sentence – because who am I to disagree with Einstein? Yet I believe that our entire reason for existing is to evolve as souls. How can we then be fixed and unchangeable?

This concept used to feel rather head-banging and even frightening to me. Now I recognize the psychological need for time.  I see it as a tool I have used to organize my current reality. And I am feeling called to reject them now. I am turning 70 this year, and for the past decade, I have felt impelled to finish what I have started in many areas of my life while also simultaneously rejecting the idea that I am growing older or “too old” to pursue many of my yet unfulfilled dreams. I like the idea that time is both circular and moving upward.  It invites me to remember how limitless possibilities genuinely are – and that our potential isn’t meant to be organized into boxes or measurements of “time.” It reminds me that I am both unbounded and eternal. When I sit with this idea in meditation, I feel the enormous and flowing sense of space it creates around me and inside me. I experience what feels like true freedom.

I accept the idea of deadlines, but quite a few of them have become softer to me as I recognize that they are most often a tool in my creative process. But when I observe them in a circle instead of a box, I feel more attuned to their real purpose – to help me somehow move up my evolving path. I see them as something that beckons me forward. I translate them from an unreal construct of time into something that serves my core purpose.

I wrote a poem about this several years ago, the last one in my poetry book, A Speckled Stone, not knowing when I wrote it where it came from. That has been true of nearly all my poetry. Now I understand that each poem was a gift of insight, for which I am deeply grateful.


I met myself while walking
up a gradually narrowing spiral
unfolding like the unbroken peel of an apple’s skin
drawn upward
a well-worn walking stick in hand
as I realized
so gradually I almost missed it
that I was traveling in circles
through space and time

At times the footpath was wide and receiving
beautiful, bejeweled, beckoning
other places offering a familiar difficulty
slippery and choked with branches and thorns
that left me bleeding
presenting gaps I had to jump over
the spiral path often narrow and so terrifying
that I closed my eyes in dread
my fear of heights taking on a new meaning
as I finally comprehended the true nature of my phobia

I reached out my hand
hoping to touch my own arm
in comfort and support
as I passed myself again and again
but now more than a few rounds ahead
I knew I was leaving behind
the concept of me
a two-dimensional character in a worn-out tale
my old stories cast aside
a past of regret disappearing behind me
like earthy, pungent wood smoke
as I moved up

My legs often trembled
as I walked and climbed
around and around
and around
each completed circle surprising me
with something I had already encountered
but not fully resolved
I moved through and past those painful places
greeting them as timeworn friends
ancient and primordial

Invisible hands sometimes reached out to support me
when my willingness flagged
I was astonished to realize
unseen companions had been accompanying me
on this climb
for time outside of memory and imagination
I had never been traveling alone

Moving now in ever smaller circles
I watched myself gain more vertical purchase
the space between my selves
sometimes appearing close
other times as if we were on different planes
like a living Escher painting

Stopping to catch my breath
I found muscle burn to be only another untrue thought
as I found myself wanting to look back
to see how far I had come
but one glance down
would show me a past that had already disappeared into ether
and that my ancient self would no longer be there either
gone away into the dreamscape
that was never actually real

It wasn’t a lack of oxygen I was feeling
as the air seemed to actually grow richer and warmer
but a sense of absence
where pain and angst used to reside
as I moved up my soul’s spiral staircase
my traveling now easier
an unseen sun seeming to warm my face
the appearance of obstacles barely registering
as I passed them by
now without acknowledgment

The top of the spiral was no longer a destination
but an eternal aspiration
as I continued to climb
toward my immoveable

Copyright 2021, Karen Stuth and Satiama Publishing, from A Speckled Stone.

More from this author

Is Time Really Going Faster? By Karen Stuth

A Speckled Stone: Thirty-one Poems for Seekers

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