Timeshifting – Part 1

Paulo Coelho

I correspond a lot by e-mail with Stephan Rechtschaffen, a doctor who founded the successful Omega Institute in New York. I was invited to give a talk there but I had to cancel it at the last moment. Then Stephan and I were contacted to talk together in Vienna, Austria, and this time I decided to cancel because I found the price they were charging absurdly high. The fact is that these upsets, instead of separating me from him, have ended up drawing us closer (the world has very odd situations).

In one of these exchanges, he told me he was going to send his book. To my surprise I received a copy in Portuguese (Timeshifting – “Reorientando o Tempo”). I read it in one afternoon and have re-read it several times more, since all of us, every day of our lives, always have some problem with this theme. In the text Stephan offers some comments that I have listed below (edited on account of the size of the column).

Time is not a measure: but rather a quality. When we look at the past we are not rewinding a tape but remembering a gift of our passage on Earth. Time is not measured like a road is measured, since we take gigantic leaps backwards (memories) and forwards (projects).

Managing is not living: “time is money” is nonsense. We have to be aware of each moment and know how to take advantage of each single moment in what we are doing (with love) or in just contemplating life. A day has 24 hours and an infinity of moments. If we slow down, everything will last much longer. Of course, washing the dishes can take longer too, but why not use that time to think about pleasant things, singing, relaxing, being happy at just being alive?

In tune with life: Arthur Rubinstein (one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century) was once approached by an ardent admirer, who asked him: “How can you use the notes with such mastery?” The pianist answered: “I use the notes the same way that others do, but the pauses … ah! That’s where the art lies.” My divorce process was extremely painful and I thought that by keeping busy I would manage to get over the difficult moments, but it did not work out as foreseen because I could not see the pain in my soul. As of a certain moment I began to “use the pauses” – sit down, let the pain come and reach me and then pass. Little by little I re-structured my life and understood better the reasons for the separation. Today my ex-wife works with me in the Omega Institute – because I was able to face pain, not just hide it behind my work.

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The second part of this text will be published here tomorrow.