Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Un-Time

I live in un-time.

Un-time is a very simple way of describing the three-way intersection of non-linear time, the theory that we're simultaneously living an infinite number of lives in endless parallel universes, and the shamanic belief that we manifest our own reality.

See - calling it un-time is much easier on the brain.

Challenges often appear daunting to us.  Heck, depending on how tired or stressed out we are on any given day, simple tasks can seem like they're asking too much of our nearly depleted resources.

This is where un-time comes in.

Today I stand here facing the challenge before me.  If I could step in a time machine and fast forward to tomorrow, I'd be in a place where I've already overcome the challenge and reached my goal.  Instead of focusing on the mountain before me, I focus on the fact that when tomorrow dawns I will have already reached the summit.  With that understanding in place, all I have to do is connect the dots.

It's all about where we put our focus.

We often aren't aware that we have a running dialogue going on in our head much of the time.  For most of us, our inner dialogue tends to be filled with, "can't" and "don't want to" and "too hard" - or some version of those phrases.  It's such a natural part of who we are that we aren't even aware of it - but it's there, running non-stop in the back of our mind.

Now imagine that, instead of being inside of us, that voice was standing next to us, constantly telling us, "This is too hard.  You should quit now.  This one is beyond your abilities.  You don't really want to do this anyway."

No wonder we have such a hard time.

Un-time skips the inner dialogue.  It's not about "can" or "can't." It becomes, "I've already done this."  We look at "Tomorrow Me" and see the task complete, knowing that we will be standing in their place when the clocks catch up with our approach to un-time.  Since we've already overcome the challenge before us, all we have to do is connect the dots.  Each time our focus or strength wavers, we remind ourselves, "I've already done this" and look to "Tomorrow Me" as our inspiration; theirs is the hand that is stretching down to us to help us climb over that last hurdle.

When I start writing a new novel, I don't look at the blank screen and think, "How am I ever going to finish this?"  Instead, I imagine "Tomorrow Me" editing the final draft, utterly thrilled with how the manuscript turned out.  At that point, all I have to do is connect the dots.  If I get frustrated I simply realize that's part of the process that "Tomorrow Me" went through to get there.  Every challenge that comes up can be overcome - after all, "Tomorrow Me" has already overcome them on their way to success.  Each day we approach the task without any pressure.  We don't have to write ten pages; we don't have to write at all.  All we need to do is to connect the dots - both the productive days and the unproductive ones - that carry us to "Tomorrow Me."  We can even ask ourselves, "What did Tomorrow Me do in this situation?" and allow our imagination to fill in the blanks.  The challenges have already been overcome; we simply have to live out the story like turning the pages in a book.

The un-time approach may seem overly simple, but it works.

In February I published Escaping Destiny which has received rave reviews.  On May 13th The Awakening will be released.  In November, my third novel, Remembering Tomorrow will come out.

Not bad for a guy with dyslexia.  Or one who has a learning disability and took five years to graduate high school.  Or who had a severe hemorrhagic stroke two years ago, lost large portions of his memory and had to relearn how to speak and write.

In between those novels I'll be publishing at least two non-fiction books on the brand of spirituality that you see here in my blog.  How does one find themselves in a position where they can write books on spirituality?

You face your challenges.

In first grade I was beaten so severely that I was left for dead and literally had to crawl for help.  Being drugged and kidnapped is a memory for me, not an episode of a television show.  I know what it's like to live in a home so abusive that as I walked home from grade school I'd make peace with the fact that this may be the day they would kill me - simply because they weren't successful when they tried the day before.  Words like "sodomy," "molestation," and "gang rape," are things that I've lived through more than once.  When most kids move into a new house, their checklist for their bedroom doesn't start with "Replace doorknob with one that locks" (I'd carry it with me from home to home) and is followed by "Remove screen from window for easy exit."  There were stretches of my life where being forced to the ground while a gun was held to my head was a daily possibility and others where I had to physically fight multiple attackers each and every day to protect my mom and my little brother.  I've slept on city buses because doing so was safer than being in my own bed.  Add to this a world of neglect, betrayal and abuse where each time you turned to someone for help, they'd turn on you as well.

Life may not have been pretty, but you know what it's like to stand in the shoes of the person that comes to you for help.  It's one thing when you say to someone, "Here's my answer - I believe it will help," and another when you say, "Here's my map.  I've already come through the place you're in and can show you a route through the darkness."

That's the raw material that makes a spiritual teacher.

Looking back on my life, there are countless stretches filled with things that people simply don't make it through.  The challenges are just too big.  When one of your favorite childhood memories is being sent to bed without dinner and the gratitude you felt as your mom smuggled you two slices of processed cheese (so you wouldn't be hungry) while you listened to the screams from the next room as her live-in boyfriend beat his sons senseless - you know you've walked a hard road.  It's not your inner dialogue alone that tries to stop you - it's your inner dialogue and everything around you.

So you live in un-time.  You believe that tomorrow will be better, that the bruises will stop hurting, that you'll be safe.  And the bruises do stop hurting.  Tomorrow is better, even if it's only in little ways - even if it's only in the pride that you made it there.  Small, necessary successes encourage you to take on bigger goals of your own choosing.  You learn that the same tools you've used for your survival, focusing on "Tomorrow Me" and knowing you'll get there, apply to every challenge ahead of you.  Whether it's learning to trust or learning to cook, fighting for your survival or fighting to run that last half mile, the process is exactly the same.  The challenges we face are unique to each of us and, in the moment, seem much bigger than they are in the rearview mirror.  People offer all kinds of advice for facing your challenges and fighting through the obstacles before you.  Me?  I say leap-frog them.  Focus on your goal and what it's like to achieve your success.  Remember that "Tomorrow Me" that has already reached the finish line and understand that each challenge is something you've already overcome.  When you're facing the challenge from that perspective, you're able to learn from the experience, simply because it's an "experience" and not a "battle."  Appreciate the insight that "Tomorrow Me" gives you as you learn to see the lessons behind the challenge and use those lessons to grow.  Each step, whether you're leap-frogging or trudging through makes you stronger; one approach is simply much harder than the other.  Me?  I prefer the easy way.

Take it from a guy who has turned "overcoming challenges" into an art form - living in un-time is my an effective way of reaching your goals. Like most things in life, it's all a matter of perspective.

19 comments:

  1. You have an amazing story and are truly an inspiration. I enjoy reading your blog everyday thank you for being willing to share such personal memories.

    Scott

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  2. @Scott Thank you. I honestly look at life like climbing a mountain - one of the key reasons why we scale that cliff is so we can turn around and give the next person a hand up.

    On the flip side of that coin, they say, "Write what you know." I've been given a much broader emotional pallet than many authors and I'm truly thankful that I have those depths to write from.

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  3. Yes, I love living in un-time. Now I know what to call it. So many times, we are told to get our heads out of the clouds and live in reality. I see those times of head in the clouds as seeing what Tomorrow Me has accomplished so I can finally get there. Thank you!!!!!

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  4. @Raven Whenever someone tells me to change my approach (for instance, "Get your head out of the clouds"), I simply ask them to show me their approach and what they've done with it. The day someone can offer me a viable approach that has greater results than what I'm working with now, I will gladly change. Until then - move outta my way! I'm coming through! :D

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  5. Truly inspirational. Thanks for being you Jeffrey! I think the view from way up here in the clouds is beautiful! When we do get something accomplished, we realize it wasn't nearly as bad or hard as we sat around thinking it was going to be. Anxiety is paralyzing! We have nothing to fear but fear itself!

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  6. Jeffrey I have said it once and I will say it again you are one of the most amazing people I have ever met. I am blessed and honored to call you my friend. My list of hero's starts with you at the top and you amaze me more and more each day with the unconditional sharing you give and the lessons your words hold are incredible!! Thank you for allowing us to know the very core of you!! You are a blessing to the universe beyond measure!!

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  7. Wow... it's inspiring to see what you've done with yourself after such a background. Thank you for this post--it's very encouraging and timely (aren't they all?).

    At the moment, I'm discovering just how 'fun' life can become when I've missed some of my meds (never know what a wallop they can wield till the after-effects take hold... sheesh). I think that un-time will make today a LOT more bearable. Thinking about tomorrow isn't hard to focus on, right now, just the things that I feel like I should be trying to get done right now.

    Thanks for the tip. :)

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  8. I need to take lessons from you. Un-time. What an awesome concept!

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  9. You never disappoint Jeffrey! Excellent points and lessons for all! :)<3

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  10. Thanks for the insight into an 'unpretty' past life - and I can only say well done you for turning it all around in such a positive and inspiring way, and letting good come out of it in your philosophies and in your writing. Re the nonlinear time thing, I've always had a vague belief in this, and it's great to see it written down, as a recognised thing to believe in! Also love the 'tomorrow me' approach :-)

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  11. You're one of my new favourite people.

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  12. @Paul The feeling's entirely mutual.

    @Karla I'll be writing a piece on non-linear time here in the not-too-distant future. (And I really like that I know you well enough through your own blog that I see your picture and think, "Hey! It's Karla!" :)

    Toby: You're very welcome.

    Angela: I'm blessed with four kids in our blended family. After years (my eldest is twelve) of explaining concepts to little ones, our world is filled with easy-to-grasp concepts like "un-time," "allies," and "Tribe," just to name a few. It works really well in our end of the modem. :)

    @Becky When I head out your way later this year, I'd love to find some time to sit and chat. There's probably a technique or two in the ol' shaman's bag that you'll find useful.

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  13. Inspiring story. It's awesome that you've come so far, and I hope for continued success for you!

    Un-time is a new word for me, but not a new concept, at least not entirely. I try to stay positive and envision my future success with whatever I'm doing. When the negative thoughts or fears start to hit me, I give them a few minutes and then kill them with kindness, so to speak. ha!

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  14. What a strong spirit you have. Many people would have been crushed by the experiences you've faced. Finding a coping mechanism that's not only helped bring you through to the other side, but that inspires you to reach behind you to help others find their way is a testimony to your success.

    Your un-time is very similar to the coping mechanism I've always used, which I've thought of as the Big Picture viewpoint. Like, no matter how terrible this day or this situation is, it won't last forever. Concentrate on surviving, and rest assured that this, too, shall pass. And similarly, no matter how much I dread doing something I have to do, like giving a speech to an illustrious crowd, I know that the day of reckoning will come and go. Whether I succeed or fail, the time will still pass. So, all I can do is prepare to the best of my ability, and then let go of the dread.

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  15. Jeffrey, that would be lovely! Whether there's something in the shaman bag-o-tricks or not, it will be a pleasure just getting to talk in person. :)

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  16. @Shannon Hooray! I like the idea of killing negativity with kindness. At this point in the game, I think negative thoughts are scared of me... LOL

    @Susan I have a very interesting perspective on things, simply because I was crushed. Walking the road that leads out of that place is a pretty transformative experience. When I see people who wrestle with the issues they face in their own life, I feel a great sense of pride toward them simply because they're doing the hard work. I know what it takes to overcome the challenge they're tackling. (By the way, I really like your positive outlook.) :)

    @Paul Building on yesterday's painting metaphor, you're one of those people that I'd feel lucky to get to stand next to at the mural, brush in hand. I truly feel that you're one of those people who makes today (and tomorrow) beautiful. You just have that "vibe" that sticks out from the crowd.

    @Becky I'm honestly and truly looking forward to it! I haven't figured out my traveling schedule, but I'm hoping to coordinate with you so we get to hang out - at least for a bit. :)

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  17. Your life and philosophy never stop inspiring me :-D

    I love the un-time concept, and have been using something like it for years, but it has not been so clearly laid out. The expanded theory is very helpful. Sometimes I also like to go back in time and send love and encouragement where they are needed.

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  18. yep, it's all about the way you view things, I myself usually always live surrounded by challenges, and as you said, we feed on the energy of such hectic situations.

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