The Gift Of Time

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Nothing is more precious than the gift of time. 

But nothing is more difficult to understand as a gift than time. The least understood and the most misunderstood is the gift of time. Understanding the gift of time is a spiritual journey. And like most spiritual journey’s, this too has the most awkward ways of showing the path. Or revealing the meaning. Or discovering the value.

Spring does follow a winter, and rainbows do follow the rain. The tulips flower to announce the spring. As do the birds that dance around the sweet fragrance of flowers and sing songs of joy. And the rays of the sun look through the clouds announcing rainbows, while painting the clouds with silver linings. 

Yet, it is not the winter before the spring or the rain before the rainbow that is the gift. Nor is it the promise of spring that will arrive or rainbows that will color the horizon. 

It is the moment after and the moment before, that which they call as now, that is the gift.

Were it not for the magic of time, the winter would never turn to spring and the rainbow would never follow the rain.

But the gift of time is the moment that you receive from another, or that you give another. At that very moment. In complete surrender. With no history of the past. And as if that moment was the only moment that existed. As if there is no other moment that will exist. In complete presence.

I like to watch life. Life is something you cannot watch without watching time. When you watch life long enough, you collect stories. Everyone likes stories. Perhaps because they seem to be about someone else. 

When they are about another, yet they sound as if they were about us, they give us an acceptance of our circumstances. They help us find serenity. When they are about another, and of circumstances we may like to experience, they give us that flight to fancy and live through as a character in the story we may rather be. When they are about another, and of circumstances we do not find pleasant, we heave a sigh that this is not a cross we have to carry. But sometimes, stories reveal that what is precious, that which we experience, yet that which we miss.

Stories can convert our life experiences to insights. So here are some of the stories I collected to help you to discover the gift of time for yourself.

***

The Goodbye

Goodbyes are never easy. Especially final goodbyes. They are not about the moments that were carried away by the breeze. Nor are they about the emptiness they will leave on the passing. 

They are about the moment of togetherness to say goodbye. If anything, it is that moment that will bring peace with the goodbye.

No goodbyes are forever. However, sometimes it takes goodbyes to recognize the value and the incredible importance of the gift of time. And a goodbye is a celebration and respect of the gift of meeting.

He knew much about stoicism. So, he knew he will always have everything his grandmother meant for him. Yet, he travelled a thousand kilometers to be with her to say goodbye. 

For all they could have now was the gift of time.

***

The Value Of Time

He complained he had no time. He said for the last 25 years he had not given time to his near and dear ones. So, he was going to spend more time with them now.

He turned down invites for walks, conversations or for meals with friends now, in order to be with dear ones, yet he ended up working back from home to fill up his day and fill up his night.

The elephant in the room was about the value of time. 

Was time a commodity that could be exchanged from the past to the future? Was time the money, the power, the acclaim, that he had got in exchange for not spending it with those he argued he was making up with by going home and working? Was the value of time worth only walking the road that was familiar? 

Was the value of time that it could not be exchanged for empathy? Was the value of time that it could not be exchanged with time for walks, conversations, or meals with friends? 

Was the value of time the moments of regret of the past? Was the value of time the desire and expectation of what time may offer in the future? Was the value of time too expensive to exchange it for what the moment invited you to do?

But he had no time for these questions. They took up too much time.

***

The Meal

They looked at each other as they sat at the dining table eating the simple meal he had put together.

It was not the time he took to make the meal that was the gift of time. Although it could well have been. It was not the time she may spend with him that was the gift of time. Although it may well be.

The gift was the moment that they looked at each other as they shared the meal together. It was the gift because at that moment no other moment existed, and no other moment was born. All existence was present in that moment and that moment alone.

***

The Conversation

He listened with rapt attention as she spoke. His expression was one of care and respect. 

She spoke passionately as she looked into his eyes.

For them at that moment, time had stepped into infinity. The moment contained all the moments that could possibly exist yet were neither those that had passed nor those that were to come.

It was the presence that they got into that moment to engage in their conversation was all that mattered. It was the gift of time.

***

The Gift Of Time

They gathered under the tree in a circle. “It’s just a game”, she announced “You can take a moment to think and then you can take turns at offering everyone in the circle a gift. You act out your gift and the receiver must attempt to guess the gift.”

From flowers, necklaces, scarves, food, music, and books, they made offerings to each other. 

Finally, it was his turn. He smiled and walked up to her. 

With his gestures he made her an offering of time.

Surprised at the unexpected gift, she smiled back. She knew that she was always short of time. 

Was the gift of time the ability to have time for everything that she lacked the time for? Or was this the gift of his time that he offered to her? Or was it the gift of time the ability to be in the moment where neither the moments that had passed, nor the moments that were to come mattered?

There was no way she would know unless she used and celebrated the gift of time that she had just been given.

***

What could be more valuable than offering the gift of time? When someone offers you time, they offer life itself.

~~

#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals and institutions that may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same. 

Anupam Saraph

Anupam Saraph

Dr. Anupam Saraph grew up in a Pune that was possibly a tenth of its current expanse and every road was lined by 200 year old trees. He’s committed to the cause of de-addicting the short-termers.

He can be reached @AnupamSaraph
Anupam Saraph

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