On Being Sculpted By Time

Dear quarter lives,

If you were a prospective piece of art and could choose your creator, who would you choose? Which cosmic force or element would you elect to be shaped by? Who do you trust to mould you, to sculpt you, to remove all that is excess until you are just exactly as you are meant to be?

For me, time has always been something that evoked quite a bit of anxiety and an equal amount of curiosity. Its slipperiness fascinated me. It moves, but you cannot really see it move except through what it touches and it touches absolutely everything. Both living and non-living. Both people and chairs. You see it wear youth into old age and tear new objects into precious antiques. Time, to me, feels like an artist. But not just any kind of artist. A sculptor. One that erodes things into being. One that carves itself onto our skin, creating stories where there was space, making lines on our surface in much the same way the wind chips away at the earth, sometimes making sharp surfaces we call mountains and at other times making space between those very mountains for water to flow and life to flourish. Perhaps time is indeed a sort of atmospheric being, not dissimilar to air. Perhaps it functions as our breaths do, constantly flowing through our bodies but never remaining in it. Our bodies need time to exist; they cannot be here without it. And just like the number of breaths we experience in a single lifetime is limited, so is the number of seconds. So maybe it is worth considering how our relationship to our breath is similar to our relationship to time, and how could exploring our relationship to our breaths offer us insight into our relationship with time. Perhaps it is through our breaths that we can get to know time more intimately.

Over the past couple of years, my relationship to time has been shifting, not only in terms of the perspective from which I observe it but too in terms of the way I am engaging with it. Time from where I stand right now seems to control everything. There are certainly aspects of time that terrify me, but right now my fascination with time is winning. I am in complete awe of it. Maybe I am a little obsessed but because this feels somewhat new to me — I have decided to attempt surrendering to the control and power of time, and see what that’s like for a change. I am sure time has a lot to show us, perhaps that’s why it keeps knocking on our doors to pay attention to it. Perhaps anxiety arises when we refuse to look at time, when we resist what it is trying to show us, when we insist on keeping our eyes closed claiming it is already too dark. Though that surrender does not mean I am not participating in this relationship, in fact I would argue I am participating more. As I learn to be with time, I become its student. As I cooperate with it, I become its partner. And maybe one day when I master its language, I can become its communicator.

We often look to our skin to see the impacts of time. We often rely on visual changes reflected back to us through mirrors and photographs. And in all this looking around to see the consequences of time, we miss the point entirely, for the most powerful ways in which time sculpts us cannot be seen with the naked eye, it requires a different kind of vision. That of the naked heart. Perhaps the scratchings of time on our skin divert from the scratchings it makes on our hearts. Although painful at times, it is these very scratchings that soften us at the core, and make us kinder and more compassionate beings. With every moment lost to memory, with every current becoming past, we acquire a kind of knowing that can only be learnt through experience, and it is this very experiential learning that grants us the vision and courage to walk together into the future with our fellow human and non-human soul mates. What time teaches is invaluable, what time grants us through its lessons is a way of being in the world that is harmonious with all the rest of the ingredients that make up the world. Time invites us to flow with it instead of fight against it. Time gives us the option of either teaming up with it by accepting its ways or rejecting it by attempting to override its ways. Time gives us the choice to be in harmony with it and thus the world, or to separate from it and all that exists in harmony with it. While the former option offers peace, the latter offers war — war with ourselves, war with the world and war with existence.

Though each one of us experiences time from a very personal point of view, time is in fact not personal in and of itself, even if it feels so. It is a universal experience, one that the entire World is subject to, from every star in the universe to every cell in every organism. This universality of time reminds us that time is not mine, neither is it yours or anyone’s at all. Time cannot be possessed, saved, sold, or traded. In the same way that I can’t give you my breath, I can’t give you any of my life hours to add to yours, even if I wanted to. Time, I believe, like our breaths is something we experience because we have a body. It is part of the experience of being in a body. Without time, we cannot experience depth. Everything would just be flat, everywhere, here and there all at once. Like a painting in a way. You can see it all at the same time. But once we acquire dimensionality, we can only be in one place at one time, experiencing time as flowing, events as series happening one after the other. When we acquire dimensionality and experience time through a body, we get to experience the process by which the painting becomes itself, we get to experience every step of that process broken down in moments just like watching a film, one image at a time for thousands of seconds and thousands of images until it’s finished and the screen goes dark, and you put on another film or just lay there in silence and stillness taking in what you have just experienced.

Time, you see, is that which can be found in the space between stillness and movement, between a painting and a film, between flatness and dimensionality. When time is present, movement becomes possible. It is the movement of still images that creates the “happening now” experience that we feel as the moving of time during a film. I feel perhaps with movement and time, it might be a chicken or egg type conundrum where you cannot say which came first but certainly the presence of one gives way for the other to arrive. Sound, speech, music — they too are experiences only possible through an existence of dimensionality and depth and not possible through flatness. In a film, sound is possible; in a painting, it is not. And why is sound possible only in the presence of time? Because sound is created through vibration and what is vibration — movement. So sound, speech and music are all forms of movement that come along to remind us furthermore what our dimensionality makes possible. So when time moves, we can move, and when it stops, I suppose we die and return to stillness once again.

The next time you meditate and slow down, take note of what is still within you and what is not. You will notice that there is much that is not within our control, much that cannot be stilled but through working with our breaths, we can learn to slow things down. By learning to navigate the rhythms of our breaths, we can witness our internal clock run, our breaths flowing through our bodies like the sand in an hourglass, passing through one at a time, keeping time for us. Observing the breath can help us to better understand the experience of being moved by time. Time began for us with our first breath. The breath is the primary mover of all things, of all beings, of our entire existence. When the breath moves, it moves everything within you. Every cell, heart, limb, voice in this world is moved by the breath. The breath is the rhythm whose movement creates time. Everything breathes. Everything that experiences must breathe in its own way. And when it ceases to breathe, it ceases to move, it dies and returns to stillness.

So if it is our breath that keeps time, then how we breathe, how we move, determines our internal weather, thereby determining our relationship to time, how time feels to our bodies, what time is removing and how it removes it. So ask yourself what is your relationship to your breath? Ask yourself as a gesture to make peace with time. The time whose passing we must all confront, whether as our own bodies change or those of the people we love. Ask yourself so that you may see that time is bound too like all of us to the laws of give and take. That which time takes from us, it gives something in its stead. All the scales even out in the end, so ask yourself what has time given you. Time is so often identified as that which takes, perhaps now the time has come for Time itself to shed its identity as taker and reveal a new side of itself as — giver, redeemer, and initiator of life.

As we age and our eyes age too, the layers between us and time slowly fade away. Over the past couple of years, I have been learning a new language by which to communicate with time and understand it. This language is one that observes the movement of the stars to keep time, commonly known as — astrology. The study of astrology has transformed my relationship with time. Now I see myself not just as a part of time but as an expression of time — a beat in its song. In a way, by looking far I have come to see what is near more clearly. I have come to see that we are all not only made up of time, but are time itself expressing as individual bodies. So you could say that we are all a form of embodied time, time getting to know itself through experiencing itself in form. How wonderful, mysterious and extraordinary it all is.

With love and always for peace,


On Freedom

Dear quarter lives, 

Every body deserves to be free, to feel free, to act and communicate with freedom. But what does it mean to be free? And what is freedom without a cage, a wall, a boundary to resist? Can there be such a thing as freedom if there weren’t such a thing as restriction? What door does limitation offer freedom without which it cannot find itself? These are all questions that have been contemplated, questioned and even attempted to be answered by some of the greatest minds ever known to philosophy. And yet, it is one of those questions that’s not the task of anyone else to answer for us. Only we can authentically answer what freedom means to us — to our specific context, to our specific body and self. To define freedom is to box it into a universal that is bound to become particular once again. The search for freedom is itself the teacher of freedom. It is important when undertaking such a journey to ask ourselves what we are seeking freedom from. Is it the confines of our body, the inescapable thoughts of our mind, is it the judgment of others, or perhaps it is the judgment of God himself? It is important to ask because it is only through recognising that limitation, through acknowledging what we feel restricts us, what we feel holds us back, can we transcend those boundaries and actually find our own particular freedom by knowing what roadblocks have been placed on our path. Sometimes these blockages are of our own doing, sometimes they are the doing of people who love us, sometimes they are the doing of the world, and sometimes they are the doing of time and many other times things just are the way they are — placed by God or by us who knows either way there are restrictions we must learn to love to be able to break through them and break free of them. One such restriction might be that we cannot turn back time, we cannot stop our growing old or the passing of time through which we lose our youth, our parents and our friends. Can you imagine what it would be like to be free of change, free of being moulded by it? I can’t. I don’t think my mind has the capacity to imagine that which is truly impossible. Everything changes all the time. Even the dead change. A leaf that falls off a tree eventually morphs into the ground or finds itself carried to a body of water that will alter its form, eat it and eventually become one with it. We are all that leaf, all in a process of being eaten and merging with the world until we eventually become a Whole. But is there freedom in such a trajectory? Is there freedom in what will already be? Can there be freedom in living and dying? Is it possible to transcend that which we cannot break away from? How do we free ourselves while simultaneously rooting and belonging more deeply to life? How do we safely make the passage to freedom without jeopardising the certainty and safety of being locked in, of being held by the world? 

I have asked more questions than have given answers but such is life. It is more valuable to ask than to answer, more useful to make certain things uncertain than to make uncertain things certain for the latter is seldom possible. I am a human being whose form of prayer is to ask — not to instill doubt but to bring about faith — for faith can only truly find us in the spaces where uncertainty resides. If you know a table is solid, you don’t need to believe that it is. But if you cannot see the edges of a table, you will wonder, you will imagine and you will ask until you are brought back into the arms of faith once again. Freedom is not that different, in the sense that we cannot be certain we are free, we cannot be certain we are not — and in that space in between is where freedom lies but the key to that space is, like with faith, a question. A question that opens you up to the reality of your freedom, that allows you to live freely instead of dream freely. So ask away until there is but one question left to ask, and in that moment you might choose to ask it or you might realise that you don’t need to because you now know that you knew all along.

With love and always for peace, 


On being extra ordinary

Dear quarter lives,

Do you remember being asked as a child what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you remember the answer you gave? Did it change as you grew up and realised the handyman that you wanted to be as a five year-old was not good enough for the world so at fifteen you decided a doctor was more suitable and then at eighteen you decided no a doctor isn’t enough, you need to be even more important than that. You didn’t want to be tucked away in a hospital saving lives quietly, you wanted to be seen for your accomplishments, recognised by the whole world for something great not because you were egotistical but because you needed greatness to give your life value. Not meaning. Value. It wasn’t about your life meaning anything, but it being worth something. And greatness is value. Greatness means you are worth it, it means all the mistakes you’ve done were worth it, it means your birth was worth it, the trouble you put your mother through to be born was worth it, the tremendous investment your parents poured into you was worth it. It means that the life you have lived was worth it. It means that when you come to die, you will feel like you were well spent.

But then your eighteen year-old self became a twenty-something old self, and you came to realise that greatness was not at all what you thought it was. Greatness wasn’t something the outside could give you. Greatness wasn’t accomplishing great things. Greatness wasn’t an object you could accumulate or collect. And as your twenty-something self approached your thirty year-old self, it dawned on you that greatness was in fact the complete opposite of anything your fifteen year-old self could’ve imagined. It dawns on you that greatness was never going to be found in the large things, but the very small ones. It dawns on you that greatness could never be achieved, earned, or accomplished but that it was a sort of being; a state one can access only from within. It dawns on you that you had completely misinterpreted what it meant to be extraordinary. It was right there in front of you but you just couldn’t see it. Extra ordinary. The most ordinary possible. And you realise how foolish you had been. How can something so obvious be hiding so well in such plain sight. Language indeed can be very crafty, but in its craftiness will manage to always keep it simple. And so it dawned on me that I could only become great through the ordinary. Through the everyday being, the everyday talking , the everyday loving as well as the everyday worrying, the everyday frustrations and the everyday resting at the end of it all. Being great is being really good at being ordinary. So this whole time, the only thing stopping me from being extra ordinary was my own resistance to ordinariness.

To pursue extraordinariness, I thought I needed to make a monster out of ordinariness. And I did. For so long, I had been so afraid of being ordinary. I was afraid of being swallowed, of being invisible, of not standing out, of getting lost in the crowd. And so as a result, I have exhausted my self pursuing a ghost. Now, I can finally rest, I can finally stop running, I can finally stop feeling so hungry for attention, for validation that I matter, that I am important, that I am worthy. Finally, I can see what I had been so blind to — the sheer freedom that ordinariness offered. All this time, I had attributed such confinement to ordinariness that I couldn’t see that it was in fact a liberation — a gift of being just so. I cannot say yet that I know ordinariness; I have yet to get acquainted and allow it to pulse through me. All these years of resisting must now become all these years of allowing, of giving permission to all that is ordinary within me to just be. And in doing so, I hope I can eventually get to a place where I am comfortable swimming in the greatness of my very extra ordinariness.

I recognise now that truly great people know they cannot accumulate any real power, because there is no power to be accumulated. Great people do not delude themselves they are powerful when they are in fact powerless in the face of time, nature and death. Great people are those who are aware of their nothingness and yet do not try to fill it up or mask it because they know nothing ever can. Greatness is knowing our power is not ours alone but all of Ours. Greatness is knowing that our personal strength comes from knowing we are a link, a chain, a connector, a communicator between all that is living and all that is dying. There is no person or being alive who was not born of someone. Our story never begins with us and neither will it end with us. So to recognise that even within our own story we might not be the main character but just a character — that, I believe, is greatness.

With love and always for peace,


We can’t prove we exist but we can accept we do


defined by the Oxford dictionary as 

n. evidence that something is true or exists. 

Dear quarter lives, 

We chase proof for our existence in the same way a child chases its shadow or a dog its tail. They are teased by the misconception that it is chasing them. A child will run as fast as it can, in circles and straight lines, trying so hard to outrun its shadow until they realise they can’t. But they’ll keep on trying again and again because maybe next time they can. This hope that next time will be different than a past experience is what keeps us running until we tire ourselves enough to forget about our shadow for a moment or two, only to rest and start all over again.

And not all children are created the same; some will be so fascinated by their shadow that they will run towards it so fast trying their hardest to catch it, and some who started off running away from their shadow will see their friend running towards it and will feel safe and reassured that it won’t hurt them because it’s not hurting their friend so they begin to chase after it as well. While another child who was chasing their shadow might see a friend running away and question their own assumption that the shadow is safe and begin to copy their friend and run away from their shadow too. But in all scenarios, we are always running. Always chasing or being chased. And until a parent points out that the shadow is actually us, and we stop for a moment to observe the ground and see that mother too has a shadow, and that her shadow is different, bigger just like her. It’s then that we finally relax and accept that the shadow is a part of us. But what about the shadows of our inner world?

During childhood, we overcome both our fear and curiosity of our external shadow and embrace it as forever part of us. But when we begin to exit childhood, during adolescence as we approach adulthood, all these internal shadows begin to pop up left, right and centre. We feel trapped because we can’t get away from all of it. We feel overwhelmed, angry and scared. Again, not all adolescents are made the same. Some of us are overtaken with curiosity and chase after our shadows, while others are overwhelmed with fear and repress their shadows. Some are influenced by their friends into changing their approach. Peer pressure goes both ways; some are shamed out of their sexuality while others are pressured into exploring it. In the end, what we learn from this is that like in our childhood, we find ourselves running either way, chasing or being chased. But the difference is that unlike in our childhood, our parents aren’t telling us, ‘It’s okay. This is a part of you. Just accept who you are.’ because they too are running from their shadows like their parents before them and their parents before them. This culture and history of repression has exhausted our psyches and unleashed our monsters onto each other. Some of us are lucky and get stopped by someone or something and asked to take a moment and sit still and look around until we finally realise that this is just like when we were children, that everyone has shadows, that shadows are completely natural, that they are perfectly normal and a significant part of who we are. A key part of our journey into adulthood is accepting our shadows and integrating them into our being. And that is very different from catching them. We can never catch them, we can never escape them, they will always be with us wherever we go. 

So in the same way that we can never catch our shadow, we can never have proof we exist. Proof for our being is perhaps the most difficult and biggest of all our shadows to overcome because it seeps into absolutely everything we do and who we perceive ourselves to be. All of us, all of the work we do, all the children we have, the books we write, the buildings we build, the forests we destroy and oceans we pollute, they are all different ways we try our hardest to leave a footprint. To leave something behind that says we were here. But why and for whom? Why do we need to prove so badly that we exist? Because the possibility of the alternative haunts us. The thought of not existing terrifies us. But isn’t that what death is? Not existing, at least from here, from where we stand now in life. So is all this seeking of proof just a way of running away from the biggest shadow of our lives: death? Can all of this running stem from a fear of death? Can we ever fully rest until we accept death first as a part of us, until we accept that a state of nonexistence, a state of being nothing, a state of non-being is too a part of us? Death is of us in the same way our shadow is. And to find any sliver of peace in this life, one must learn to accept all of life, and that includes death. Because you see there can never be any proof of life except our experience of it. And to be able to relax, let go and fully experience life, we must accept life for what it really is — an experience of dying, of approaching death. 

“If we are to take it as a truth that knows no exception that everything living dies for internal reasons — becomes inorganic once again — then we shall be compelled to say that ‘the aim of all life is death’ and, looking backwards, that ‘inanimate things existed before living ones’.” — Sigmund Freud1

Till next time,


1 Freud, S. (1920). Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

Fix your Gaze

Dear quarter lives,

Fix your gaze — a meditation practice. They tell you to fix your gaze on something and sit still and observe. But what does it really mean to fix your gaze? Is it simply a practice in focus or is there much more to it than meets the eye? Let us take the phrase and break it down. To fix means to correct. And to correct your gaze, to correct where you were looking implies you were looking wrong. But is it looking in the wrong place or the wrong way? Or is it that you were looking in the first place? Is it transforming our unconscious looking into a conscious act that transforms it from mere looking into deliberate sight. Seeing is choosing to look. And by choosing to look you make a deliberate choice to direct your attention to a specific object of your sight. It is that which we must correct when they say fix your gaze. The practice indeed requires focus, but it is because you are “focusing” i.e. directing your attention to a specific point. It is training you to consciously choose to look, i.e. to see.

Many of us walk through life without seeing much. Our eyes collect information constantly, but how much of it do we choose to see, how much of it do we choose to experience? It is only when we use our senses consciously that we fully experience them. Otherwise, they just exist. And by extension, we just exist. But when you choose to see, to hear, to feel, that is when your senses come to life. And by extension, you become alive.

In his essay The Soul of Man under Socialism, Oscar Wilde wrote, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” These two short sentences stuck with me ever since I first read them over a decade ago. Though their meaning for me has changed over the years as I have changed and grown. It might seem like a self-explanatory statement. But the more I contemplated it, the more obscure it grew. It had so many layers, and the more layers I peeled, the more I found. Is it simply that a few of us choose to live, and others let life happen to them? But what is the nature of that choice? I mean no one wants to go through life sleepwalking. Most of us want to live, but why don’t we? If it is a choice, why aren’t people choosing what they want? Or can they not find the choice, is it hidden somewhere — a puzzle, only a few can solve? And if so, what is the best hiding place for choice? What is the best hiding place for anything? In plain sight!

It is that obvious that we miss it. The best place to hide anything is in plain sight. It is in our sight, literally. We just need to fix it. The choice is in our sight. It is in how we see the world, that is how we come to life. The choice to live, the ability to live rather than exist, comes from the choice to see rather than to look. We must choose our eyes. Which eye am I going to see the world with today? What kind of eyes am I willing to use? Am I going to use my looking eyes or seeing eyes? That is the choice we must make to live or exist. Practices like meditation are also like the statement I shared above, they might seem simple, but once you contemplate them, and sit with them, they reveal their layers to you, and the more you peel, the more you will find. It is not just about breathing, or focus, or observation, it is about much more. The thing is about these layers is that they are person specific, they reveal themselves to you in the order you need to learn them, in the order that you are ready to become aware of them. What I have shared here is only one of my insights, but it might not sit with you or stick like it has with me, not because it is incorrect or correct, but because it is not time for you yet. There is always a time for each one of us to receive insights from the universe that will guide us along our path. And because my path is unique to me, and your path is unique to you, the lampposts for all of us are unique, our crossroads are unique, so I am sharing my specific learning with you not to tell you that this is what you should do now, I am sharing it with you because I want to illustrate to you the great potential there is for discovery in contemplation. It is only a possibility that I share with you, and I hope that you take it as a token of my appreciation for your life, and find your own.

All that I hope to do with this work is to start an open conversation into our potential. We are at the beginning of our lives, dear and fellow quarter lives, and I believe we have so much potential for life, and so much possibility lies ahead of us but it is only if we believe in the impossible that all becomes possible. And perhaps I have shared here much of my contemplations into the absurd, but I have chosen the absurd to contemplate, because I believe that the absurd is a great teacher in humility and grace. It does not mean that if our human minds have not explained it, then it cannot be. If the history of scientific discovery has illustrated anything, is that it all already existed before we made theories of it. So the absurd is a magnificent teacher in that it allows you to approach everything with a sense of “I know nothing, but I am ready to learn”. And what a great place to be as a student of life, than a place of “I don’t know everything”. It is that specific place that creates space in your mind, in your senses, in your soul for more. For if you already claim you are full, if you already claim that you know all, then there will be no room in you to know more. So I have chosen the absurd, because I have chosen a path of learning. But this is my teacher, at least for now. Find your own. It is a wondrous experience to be shown the way. When visiting a historic site or monument, do you not seek a tour guide to show you the way, to tell you about the magnificent wonders of the site. Life is no different. There are many guides, who speak many languages. Find your language. Find your guide. Choose to see, and you will discover a whole new world. Just fix your gaze, and you will find grace along the way. 

Always with love,