"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

2nd of 5 installments, from How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream

If You’re Going to Invest in Yourself You’ll Have to Steal Time for Your Dreams

What is time?

Unlike oxygen, an element which is objectively, scientifically definable, and more or less beyond our control, time is man-made, relative to perception and subject to choice. The Type C Personality (C for Creative) learns to redefine time subjectively, in order to become successful by his own standards. Objective time, dictated by Greenwich Mean Time with an occasional correction for NASA, leads only to the conformity of repetition. Subjective time alone allows us to distinguish ourselves and to achieve our dreams of success.

Logos vs Mythos

According to the classical Greeks, the two primary ways of perceiving the world were known to them as logos (for the Accountant¹s logic) and mythos (for the Visionary¹s simultaneity). The Visionary’s belief in eternity is what makes the Type C’s life change from barely bearable to ever enthusiastic. “To himself,”³ Samuel Butler wrote, everyone is immortal. He may know he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead. The Visionary¹s eternity is the experience of mythic time that occurs when you “lose yourself” in the pursuit of your dream. It’s Br’er Rabbit’s ‘”briar patch” speech: “Throw me anywhere, but please don¹t throw me in the briar patch!” The briar patch, of course, is Rabbit’s favorite place, his home—the Writer’s work!

Sometimes you¹ll meet an old schoolmate after years and have the experience that “t seems just like yesterday” that you were having this exact same argument, or laughing for the same reason known only to the two of you. A moment passes, as the Accountant wrests control from the Visionary: “But, on the other hand, it seems every bit like the twenty years it’s actually been.” Has it been twenty years, or was it just yesterday? William Faulkner wrote: “There is no such thing as was; if was existed there would be no grief or sorrow.” To the Visionary, time exists always in the present. He feels timeless when he’s in his own Type C time—writing!

Accountant’s time

To the Accountant, who’s kept track of the years--and also the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds--precisely, it¹s been exactly twenty years, and he can prove it by reciting all the things that have happened to both of you in the interim. The Accountant clocks time with digital precision, obsessive call-ins to the phone company¹s correct time service. The Accountant¹s time is what keeps society sane, if you call today’s society sane.

But when the Accountant¹s insistence dominates, you are denied making your dreams come true. The Accountant, nervous about anything intangible or unseen, doesn¹t believe in dreams; or, at best, assumes the worst about them: “They¹re only dreams.” Human beings can’t fly.

Visionary time

To the Visionary, whose relationship with that same friend is/was intense, it’s just yesterday. The Visionary clocks time only by reference to intensity. Lovers live from embrace to embrace, the time that’s passed between them not counting. Have you ever felt like life would pass you by when you¹re stuck in an endless left-turn lane during rush hour? How long does a second last if you’re perched at the parachute door of a plane at 15,000 feet about to make your first jump? How long is forty seconds during a 6.6 earthquake? Or at the edge of a cliff, about to rappel for the first time? A friend of mine described an encounter with a prospective client, “I spent an eternity with her for an hour and a half yesterday.”

The Visionary brings you mythic time when you engage in your career transit with all your heart, mind, and soul; when you are occupied in doing something that "takes you out of time," or "takes you out of yourself." You're ecstatic--which, from its Greek origins, literally means "standing outside" yourself. "I don't know where the time went," is what you say when you've just passed fourteen hours creating the whole magical kingdom of Tumbukti and its graphics--and your spouse, sent by the worried Accountant to tell you you've missed an important dinner party, is banging on the door because you've taken the phone off the hook. Like Alice's White Rabbit, the Accountant would always have you believe that you're late for a very important date. And the Accountant doesn't like it one bit when your Mind's Eye stops to question how important that date may be; or, whether you made the date in the first place or whether it was made for you. Type Cs insist on making their own dates because their Mind’s Eyes have learned how to insure that mythic time gets preference over logical time.

You've had this experience: You've told yourself you're just going to steal "two hours" to work on your dream. You go into the briar patch. One hour and fifty-five minutes have gone by, during which you've been “lost”--fully engrossed in your writing, without a thought for the outside world that operates on the Greenwich clock. The hours have passed "like a minute" (the Visionary's way of talking makes the Accountant crazy). Then, you look up at the clock to discover that only five minutes remain of your bargained for two hours. How did you know to look up at the five-minute mark? Because your Accountant never sleeps, even when he's been taken off duty. If you decide to remain in the mythic time of your dream work beyond the five minutes remaining--that is, beyond the exactly two hours you set aside--the Visionary has won this particular encounter. The Accountant has lost. If you decide to quit "on time," you may think the Accountant has won, and the Visionary lost.

What's wrong with this win-lose scenario is that it's exhausting, and impossible to maintain in the long run. Most people, faced with this constant natural strife between the two aspects of their minds, have allowed the Accountant to take over entirely as the only peaceful alternative. They've chosen the Accountant's conservative, safe way of behaving because the daily battle is too costly in energy and emotion. If the Visionary "wins" the five-minute battle, for example, and you continue working on your new invention for another four hours instead of the two you'd set aside, guess how hard it's going to be for the Accountant to agree to the next two hours you want to steal. The Accountant will use every instrument in the arsenal of procrastination to postpone the trip to the workshop.

How to avoid losing time

Francesco Petrarch: It is appointed for us to lose the present in the expectation of the future.

Petrarch, the first "Renaissance man," was aware that we spend a large majority of our time "somewhere else" than in the present moment. Planning for the future, worrying about the past--so much so that by the time you reach middle age the two horses, Past and Future, are engaged in a life-and-death race along your internal timeline. Competing for your vitality, stealing your present. The time you spend on past responsibilities, past regrets, past relationships, eats into the time available for growth and progress toward your future goals.

If we don't recognize "what's going on here," as Accountant time and Visionary time battle in our perceptions, we can get very confused. When we get confused, the Accountant can take control of our lives. For most people, the Accountant has been in full control. Consequently, they are frustrated, bored, caught in a rut. With the help of Mercury's powerful caduceus--whose two snakes represent the taming of past and future around the strength of present awareness--the entrepreneur's now-open Mind's Eye can transform the bloody battlefield into the altar of your hopes and dreams. Awakening his Mind's Eye, Jack London said:

“I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

This anti-Accountant declaration is made by your Mind’s Eye--which knows that only by marrying the Accountant's logic with the Visionary's myth will the present be captured for effective dream work, in lieu of the Visionary wasting the present in daydreaming, or the Accountant in obsessing about the past and the future. When your Mind's Eye takes charge of these constant time wars, productivity combines with peace of mind. The photographer Ansel Adams said, "I'm amazed at how many people have emotional difficulties. I have none. If you keep busy, you have no time for them."

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