When does eternity start?
5 minutes at a stoplight can seem like forever, and 3 hours on a treadmill moves into the realm of hell eventually. But at what point does it go from bearable to endless?
As a young child, I remember clearly the time when my mom put me down for a nap. On some level, I was cognizant of my disdain for the forced downtime. Heck, I probably wanted to be out chasing geckos. I must have recently overheard the saying “a watched clock never moves” because, thinking myself clever, I moved the dial on the old-style oven timer to 5 minutes, jumped back on my bed and waited for the high-tempo metal clang that would signal my release. When mom came into the room I explained that, since I didn’t look at the timer, time “flew by”.
I used to dread long training rides but a couple of years ago I suddenly realised that I’d been riding for 3-4 hours and hadn’t really put much notice to it. Even still, I’d finish feeling worked over. When I arrived home the other day after a longish ride the habit to stand bent over and feel sore activated right on cue. Thankfully, at that moment I asked myself if I could step out of the pummelled persona, be different, and stand up relaxed, energised, and refreshed. Absolutely! The body responded immediately to the attitudinal shift and pains quickly dissolved.
Dictionary definitions of eternity include:
i. duration without beginning or end;
ii. seemingly endless period of time;
iii. the truths or realities of life and thought that are regarded as timeless or eternal.
Since eternity is without beginning or end then it must always, and already, be present. Joyful timelessness isn’t some heaven in the sky waiting for me after I accomplish various tasks, it’s here, now. In a sense, it’s waiting for me to step off the carousel, breathe, and keep my awareness in the present rather than pinned to the illusory stories I paint of the past and future.
Dandapani teaches that “being present is a by-product of being concentrated. You cannot be present unless you learn how to concentrate.” Application of this concentration encompasses being clear about what I’m seeking to achieve, plan and take the steps that are inherent for that journey, be open to the variabilities that naturally occur, and steadfastly relax into the process of living.