From Linear Time to Cyclic Time

By Matthew Marsolek

The seasons seem to pass so quickly these days. All the necessary schedules, appointments, commitments, and counted hours that keep our lives rolling along end up binding us into a linear time frame. By spending so much time anticipating the future and the next item on the docket, the fullness of the present moment slips away from us. Thankfully, there are some ways to slow things down a bit. Our senses can guide us into a different time frame - what I call cyclic time - if we let them.

For myself, playing a repeating rhythmic pattern on a drum or some other musical instrument will quickly take me away from the measured hours and minutes that had occupied my consciousness just moments before. And leaving this linear time frame, I'll enter cyclic time where moments are not counted, but experienced.

The more fully I experience each moment, the more linear time seems to slow down. Of course, to make the shift out of a linear time frame by holding a rhythmic pattern requires a bit of focus and attention. To play the rhythm and sustain it, I have to let go of other thoughts and concerns and listen deeply to the pattern as it unfolds again and again. My mind is calmed as it holds the repeating pattern and my senses get keener. I become more present.

All of the creative arts have this ability to change our time frame. To draw, paint, or sculpt something out of clay, we have to engage the senses and become as present in the moment as possible. Can we truly let go into the dance by counting the steps?