It’s a starting line for new beginnings and a yardstick to measure things: progress, success, relationships, goals, etc. But there’s nothing inherent in New Year’s for us to use it this way. The only reason we do is simply because others do it, and there’s strength in numbers.
Goals, fresh starts, new beginnings, goals and resolutions are human nature. The tendency to mark off the passage of time ritualistically, to collectively bury the past and usher in a future is hardwired and ancient. But what’s not human nature is determining the timing of change. We can time our attempts; we can decide to focus; we can do what needs to be done to put the wheels in motion, but in the end, change and growth are uniquely unpredictable.
We may march collectively to chronological time, including using New Year’s to turn over a new leaf, or bury an old one, but life doesn’t unfold chronologically. It unfolds kairotically. Chronos and Kairos, two versions of time. Chronos is what we measure, what we march to, and what we tick off at the start of a year, month, or day. If Chronos is time, then Kairos is timing. It’s the inherent ripeness or readiness we cannot know. Kairos is like the Taoist flow of experience. Things happen, ripen and develop when they do and we can only seize the opportunity, make ourselves ready, and recognize the moment.
I like setting goals. Especially meaningful ones. They are a like a meditation and a focus. But goals and change are not the same. I may set a goal, and try to align myself to it, but reaching that goal, the timing of my development is outside my control. What I can do is learn to listen, to tune into my internal rhythms, to sense the moment, and feel the quality and energy of things. To go from A to B chronologically is a straightforward shot. But to grow from A to B, sometimes takes us through C, P, X and M on route. Why? No clue. But retrospectively, it always seems to make sense. C.S. Lewis said it best: We ride with our backs to the engine. We have no notion what stage in the journey we have reached.
That’s why one of the hardest things to do is to advise or counsel others, or ourselves about the right moment: the right moment to move, change, leave a partner, have a child, start a new job, leave home, go back to school, etc. We become ready at different moments. We can’t make ourselves ready; we can only sense when the timing is ripe.
So happy chronological new year! Best of luck with your goals and resolutions, and enjoy the surprising and meandering kairotic path that takes you there.
You might be noticing my new site here. Following the beat of Chronos, I decided last spring to revise my site to be ready by the end of the summer. But of course, things unfolded ala Kairos. And so here we are, at the new year, with a new site. What I wanted was within my control; when it happened was not. But this is perfect. It allows me to start the new year with a freshened up look.
I decided to consolidate my website and my blog, putting both onto my WordPress platform. It’s tighter, easier to find things. Less static content, and more changing content.
One new thing you’ll notice is that on my Resources page, I have more videos and podcasts. In the new year, I plan to create content using video and podcasts, which will be loaded onto my site, but also available on my Youtube channel.
I also hope to have a regular podcast. I’m working on the technology for that, not my strong suit. But it’s on the ‘resolutions list.’ We’ll see what Kairos has to say about that.
Another change this year that I hope to make, is to take my own advice about living selectively and be more deliberate about the social media platforms I’ll be using. Just because one is available, doesn’t mean my content is suited to it. Right now, my blog, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, G+, and the occasional Instagram seems to be where I’m focusing. But I’ll be reviewing that in the months to come.
Finally, I look forward to several new projects and programs launching this year. However, in deference to Kairos, I won’t describe them now, but will when they really do begin to hatch.
Let’s hear from you. What are you working on this year? Where do you intend to go, and what do you think Kairos has in store for you?