Blog > Time

December 2, 2008

Thanks to Cyriel Kortleven for suggesting this blog topic.

I’ve sat with this for a couple of days now – such a big topic, time. And now I know why I waited. Today my friend Chris Corrigan wrote a post reflecting on an open space event he’s been hosting. Here’s some of what he said:

Things take time.  It’s interesting that we know that and we forget it at the same time.  We crave immediate results for our ideas.  When we forget that things take time, we forget everything that has gone on to take us to the point where we are finally able to start something and we forget the people that laid the groundwork for things. 

Recently I wrote a post about standing on the shoulders of others. You can read it here. So much of what we do we owe to those who have come before. Yet sometimes we can be caught in an endless loop of celebrating past achievements. When do we turn around and look in the other direction – towards the future, the unknown? I’m reminded of a lesson from the father of Open Space, Harrison Owen, who talked about that space between the past and the future where we just are, as another form of open space. 

He, and others, have also called this space NOW. Being present is a core principle of improv theatre. The ability to be here, now, while also holding the past and being open to the future is, well, hard.

I fall into the impatient category – I have to work real hard to temper my impatience, and to just be. This is not a bad thing – being conscious of time, its pace and its effect on people. Too fast, too slow, just right – all in the one group throwing light on the challenges of facilitating a group where expectations of time vary. I often use myself as an indicator. How am I feeling? What am I feeling in my body? When my brain is telling me one thing and my body another, I trust my body more.

I wear an analog watch when facilitating. I don’t wear a watch any other time. When I’m facilitating, time does strange things – it speeds up and slows down. I can’t trust my own perception so I use a watch to keep track of the time. I like to finish on time. I like the challenge of the ebb and flow that culminates in an on-time finish. I think it’s important to finish on time as its a recognition of the participants and their lives and responsibilities outside of the workshop or event I’m facilitating. 

As Chris said, things take time. How much? Who knows? Our challenge is to gift ourselves the time we need, and to give others close to us the time they need. When facilitating groups we need to make judgments about providing more or less time according to what that group needs at that particular time. With time, there are no rules. It just is.

And a small Haiku to finish…

Time ebbs and flows. Takes
us to places known, unknown.
To just ‘be’ – a gift!

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