We all know that time doesn’t exactly work like its supposed to. Our chronological description of time, carefully measured in seconds, minutes, hours, doesn’t match with our actual experience of it. Sometimes a minute seems like ages, and sometimes an hour flies by and we wonder where the time went. This makes our lives more complex because we have to balance our experience of time with the expectation that we will work to the clock, so we can coincide with others in meetings, mealtimes, train timetables etc.
And there is another version of time as well, that most of us ignore, because there’s enough to handle already! Yet it is related to our real experience of time and can be very useful to us, should we choose to rediscover it.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time. There was ‘chronos’, the measurement of time passing – where we get chronological from. And there was also ‘kairos’, which means the right time – we have no real equivalent in modern language.
This version of time is the one that astrology is related to. It is where everything is aligned to give us the opportunity to do something easily, effortlessly, in the right way.
When we happen to hit the right time, we generally see it as a coincidence or happy accident. For example, we decide to call someone who is never available and they answer the phone with time to talk, or we put our house up for sale and it is snapped up straight away.
Yet we do not have to hope for the happy accident – we have an innate sense of kairos. We can learn to listen to ourselves and follow our feelings to help us to use kairos to make our lives easier. Our sense of kairos doesn’t come from our reasoning heads. They tend to work to chronos, and give themselves away by saying things like: ‘I should do xxx this morning’ or ‘I need to tackle that issue with the kids this evening’. If there’s a should, ought, got to, must, need to in there, it’s not likely to be kairos – those words refer to the logical version of time, not the perfect opportunity.
The sense of kairos comes from our guts, and bypasses our reasoning, our logic. Science has now proved that we have what they call the enteric brain: neurotransmitters in our guts that are exactly like those in our brains. And it seems that we receive initial information about the world around us here first – gut instinct is alive and well, and a proven fact!
This awareness of the perfect opportunity for something is, I believe, an amalgam of information that we don’t realise consciously that we receive, a wisdom that we often don’t recognise in ourselves. It is an instantaneous assessment of both our state and information from the world around us that gives us an accurate conclusion – either this is the right time or it isn’t.
So next time you feel that gut response that says to avoid the motorway route, follow it. Next time you suddenly think of an old friend, give them a call. Get in the habit of listening to your gut responses and follow them whenever you can, and you will find that kairos is available to you, and can make your life easier.