in the company of time

How are you on this June-y Friday? What's going on in your world? What are you letting go of or taking in from this week?

(reply in your mind or in your email, if you want. I love hearing about your world!)

Ernest and I are breathing much more slowly and sweetly now after a night and morning of hurt and worry.

His latest zoomies through the forest resulted in a torn-off toenail.

The vet said it was good that the whole nail came off. It might regrow back as a funky nail but it will regrow. And once we're ready, we'll intentionally get back into a tight habit of nail trims.

Let's get into some thoughts on time today. Yeah?

Painter Mariam Paré, who specializes in making paintings by mouth after suffering a spinal cord injury, offers some advice to her younger self:

If I could talk to myself twenty years ago, I would tell myself to focus on my strengths, and not on my weaknesses; on the things I could do and not the things I couldn’t do; to strive to excel and hone those skills to the point of excellence. That this was the best strategy to secure my future. I would say to myself that the only real obstacles you have are those you create for yourself.

Source: In the Company of Women

This quote was in James Clear's email newsletter* last week. That last sentence jumped out at me first but then, actually, the first sentence is what sunk in.

How often do I gravitate to the weakness rather than the strength?

More importantly, what am I missing (like the recognition that making paintings by mouth is a possibility) by shoving my nose so deep into the weaknesses?

I was intrigued by the title of the source. The book was "available at your preferred library." The hold notification arrived in my inbox almost immediately.

Picking it up a few days after, I realized it was a coffee table book that I had paged through while taking a work break on a velvet couch at The Riveter, a female-focused co-working space, in Seattle. I had decided to try out a few different co-working spots on days I wasn't teaching to prepare for leading professional development trainings.

This was three years ago in December.

I am flirting with joining a co-working space again / anew. I went into a research rabbit hole recently, saw they had closed all nine of their locations when the pandemic arrived, and don't plan on re-opening them (though, they seem to be pivoting to other in-person opportunities).

I find myself wondering where that book – that book that I was paging through three years ago – where is it now?

It exists somewhere still, though that co-working space is no longer. And this other / same book has found me again now, through the library, through James Clear's newsletter. Through Paré's words.

How distant sitting on that couch feels to me,

how distant I feel from how my body felt that day,

the thoughts I was thinking,

the other people around me, what they were wearing and doing.

I finally ordered my own deck of the Wild Unknown Archetypes deck.

I have had the deck on long-term borrow from dear Lisa. I let the two top cards on the deck be revealed, Kairos was one of them.

Kim Krans, the creator of the deck, starts the writing about this card with, "We have all had the experiences of timelessness, of life beyond the ticking of the clock. It might be felt as time standing still, slow motion, or losing track of time on a walk or in a lovely conversation."

Krans includes the name of a piece of art or a different kind of something along with each card's description:

Go deeper: Felix Gonzalez-Torres' "Untitled (Perfect Lovers)"

I go deeper. Reading Felix Gonzalez-Torres' instructions for his art:

It is a must the two clocks were to touch and could be replaced with white plastic commercial clocks of similar dimensions and design. The guidelines continue, the minute and second hands were to be set in sync, with the understanding that eventually they might go out of sync during the exhibition. If one of the clocks needed the batteries replaced, it was to be done, and the clocks were to be reset accordingly; the clocks were to be displayed on a wall painted light blue.
The guidelines consist of an ambiguous statement: with the understanding that eventually they might go out of sync...

The book and the co-working space were once in sync. The book now sits in a box somewhere, or someone's personal coffee table, or for all I know, it was donated to the library and it's actually the same one I'm reading right now.

And the space and that cool exposed brick building in which the co-working space was housed, they've had their batteries taken out, replaced.

Gonzalez-Torres' partner, Ross Laycock, was HIV-positive, his health was declining and he died from AIDS. This piece reveals his personal life.

At some point the two lovers fall out of sync. The clock batteries can be replaced and put back in sync. But the clock is different now, it has new batteries. They're in sync again but one clock has a new kind of energy. Is the clock who didn't need their batteries replaced changed by this new energy somehow as well?

I didn't think I'd end up looking at a piece of art of two clocks today. But it's exactly where I wanted to go.

The ending of that co-working space, this book and the women's wisdom and advice within it, I wanted to look at this book not just as a book I happened to pick up again.

I wanted to look at it how I look at most all things. What's the synchronicity here? The sense of mythic time, of kairos?

For this is a strength of mine. And perhaps a strength of yours, too, since you're into what I write?

Do you want to welcome the magic of time (back) into your life? How could you allow for that?

How could you bear witness to falling out of sync with a lover? a habit? a place? a past self or future vision?

How could it be both playful and sad? How could the endings and beginnings be both distinct and entangled?

page of large book opened to large type quote on left page (read below) and circular Kairos card with blue prism-like design with furry animal eye cut out in center of card
page of In The Company of Women with the Kairos card laying on top

I am reading Mariam's words in In The Company of Women now:

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I take care of myself. I try to curtail any negative thinking and stoke up positive thinking. I rely on my internal resources. I remind myself to have faith that everything will work out.

With all you're moving through, I'm hoping you're taking care of yourself.

As always, take what works for you, leave the rest.

Maybe a reflective question jumped out to you that you'd like to tuck in your back pocket for the weekend.

Maybe you want to rely on your internal resources in a moment of self-doubt.

Maybe you want to let kairos lead?

Til next time,


*The link for James Clear's newsletter is a referral link which means that if 3 new people sign up through this link, I'll receive an email with a PDF of great speeches James Clear has unearthed and wants to share with others. A nifty way of referring people to one's newsletter, yeah? I've been seeing more folks experimenting with this kind of word of mouth.