I read an article this week about time. The article noted that there are two words in the Greek language for time: Chronos and Kairos.
Chronos is linear time. Chronos is “I will pick you up at the train station at 7:30”, or “our meeting will last one hour”, or “my flight is delayed 90 minutes”. Chronos is about calendars, watches, schedules and planning.
Kairos is something different. Kairos is about losing track of time, or “time out of mind”. Kairos is when I’m enjoying something so much that I forget what time it is and stop looking at my watch. As my favorite band used to sing “….what I want to know is- where does the time go?”
I spend most of my time in Chronos. I look at my watch, my work schedule, and I ask questions like “how much longer will this meeting go on” or “are we there yet?”
I live for Kairos. Sunday dinners are Kairos time. We light candles, we play music, we laugh, we eat.
And we lose track of time.
I have a funny relationship with time. I am hyperaware of it. We have 16 watches and clocks in our home, and some need to be changed every time we “change clocks”.
You have 16 clocks too, but you probably don’t think about it. We have clocks on our ovens, on our microwaves, one watch per person, and one alarm clock per person. One clock in each of three cars. And I haven’t included the clocks that are on our computers and phones.
I listen to Pink Floyd sometimes. Their album “Dark Side of the Moon” has two songs entitled “Money” and “Time”. The album was recorded at a point in their careers when they were starting to achieve great financial success, and also at a time when they realized that they were starting to age.
In the song “Money”, they joke about having so much money that they can buy a football team (the kind of football team that kicks a soccer ball around, since they are British).
But they also sing about the passage of time. They realize that they have way more money than they can ever spend, but not enough time to spend it.
Part of their song “Time” goes as follows:
“You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”
A little bit later in the song, they sing “Every year is getting shorter; never seem to find the time. “
I can relate. I am 53 years old. Unless I live to be at least 107 years old (not likely), my life is more than half over. It might be more over than that, and I don’t know it.
When I was younger, all that I wanted was to have more money. I thought I had all of the time in the world, but not enough money.
Now that I’m older, I realize that I probably have enough money, but not enough time. Or not as much as I’d like to have.
I’ve written before about having stents placed in my heart. Something about that experience woke me up about the passing of time. I was laying on the cardiac cath table, watching the whole procedure. On one hand, the medical and technology parts of the procedure were fascinating. On the other hand, they were working on my heart, and that got my attention.
One day, my heart is going to stop beating. It is going to stop keeping time, and that will be it for me. So I think a lot about how I use my time. The time I have left is limited, it is important to me, and I don’t even know how much of it I have left. I could have 40 years, 4 years, or 4 days. The truth is that I have no idea.
I know how much money I have. I don’t know how much time I have. I only know that I have now.
Whatever time I have left, I’d like to spend as much of it as possible in Kairos, not Chronos.