Time and the Art of Living

May 9, 2023

Time and the Art of Living

By Amba Gale

While “Time and the Art of Living” is the title of a book by Robert Grudin, it is a beautiful distinction, this idea of exploring our relationship to time, and no time, otherwise known as Being Present.

In these days of moving so quickly through life, in this rapid – fire paced world of ours, we often, simply, forget to take the time to STOP, LOOK, (observe, from Presence), and Listen (to what all of nature, others, and life are saying to us). This listening also includes what we are saying to ourselves, for when we take a deep dive into our own inner reflections, wisdom and guidance can come our way that are normally not available to us through our strategic mind.

It’s easy to recall those words, as they were ingrained in my early years of schooling through Dick and Jane: Stop, Look, Listen.

This last week, I was leading a retreat named “The Art of Living Wakefully,” for graduates of “The Joy of Being.” The title of the retreat was “Finding Inner Peace: Compassion, Patience Simplicity.”

During our inquiry into Patience, Tom, one of our retreat participants, had a good laugh, as did we all.  He has given me permission to share his story with you, 

He shared: there he was, at the entrance to Zion, with his family, in a long line of cars, terribly frustrated. He wanted to honk, he wanted to yell at the other drivers, his kids were incredibly upset with him for being so frustrated, and for nattering and complaining. He was terribly impatient.

What he realized was that that incident was a good metaphor for seeing where he was living his life from.

He realized that he could have looked up and he would have seen the beautiful red/orange cliffs above him – nature’s gift to us. He realized he could have stopped. He could have stopped, and looked, and listened. He could have stopped his internal voice of resistance to, well, whatever – the long line of cars, the time it was taking to get into the park, other people. Enjoyment of life would have been his. Appreciation would have been his. Gratefulness would have been his. Harmonious family participation would have been his.

His was not the only story like that in the room.

Later, when he described how he refused to stop at the pull-outs, wanting so badly to get down to the entrance to the park, to level ground, he missed the gift of entrance into the magical land that is Zion. So did his family. We had a good laugh.

Later, the day after the retreat,  he shared with me that he had a rebirth in the retreat, had accomplished a huge threshold crossing, from hurry, hurry, hurry, through the day to being present to the wonder of everything.

So often, we deprive ourselves of the richness of letting life more through us, when we rush through our days, like some kind of maniacal monster.

And, when time and our press for time runs the show, we miss what is really being asked for, and what is really being given.

We live in the world of what’s next, and let’s get to it, already.

Later, in that same retreat, I, myself, was grabbed by the very same pattern. Another participant was sharing something precious from his life, something he was deeply moved by. My own maniacal quest to complete that section of the retreat by a certain time took over and started running the show. The energy in the room turned dead. Realizing this, as I was deeply listening through my body to the listening in the room, I stopped where I was going (onto the next section!) and apologized to him, and we were able to return to the conversation being unfolded richly, and rightly, in the space of no time.

Lesson learned. It sure was blatant. I had to laugh about having to be the channel for that live and – in – the – room lesson for us all.

Time worked itself out that day, just beautifully, when I paid attention to what mattered. And of course, we completed the retreat “on time,” with everything accomplished, everything said, that wanted to be said and wanted to be accomplished.

I invite you to stop, look and listen. And if you are on a vacation this summer, may you remember this story, letting Tom’s experience, and his breakthrough, contribute to your own experience, the opportunity of being here, now. 


By Amba Gale

When you are Wonder-Filled
Everything matters.

The ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary
and your own first sight
you to bliss.

A tree, a cup, a leaf, a magnolia petal.

Sit under the Oak.
Be delighted by its presence.
Drink from the cup.
Let your body fill with Warm Happiness.
Be with the leaf.
And if you listen deeply enough,
she will sing to you.

When you smile when you sit,
the smile will enliven
your entire body.

If you were blind,
having eyes to see with
would be miraculous.

If you were deaf,
hearing the song of the chickadee
would bring you to think
you were in heaven.


Don’t be ridiculous.

While times are hard,
You can yet sing.
You have a voice.

You have two lungs
with which you can breathe.

You have a heart
through which you can love.

You have two legs
upon which
you can dance.

You are a Creator, an Author, an Artist
to the last.

You are ALIVE!

What can I be grateful for,
now and now and now?

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