When Time Goes Round

Nov 10, 2020

In the west, we have been trained to see time as linear. Certain things have happened in the past and the past is gone. It can't be changed. Other things will happen in the future. We may not know them yet because they are still to come.

But what if we pause and consider for a moment a different type of reality?

The elders of the Q’ero people of Peru, the Laika as they are called, have kept a body of sacred knowledge for centuries. Amongst their teaching is the concept of circular time: a time that is different than the linear progression we have been taught in our school years. A time where what is yet to happen is already happening and what has already happened can be changed by what is yet to happen. A time where we can move back and forth, go back and change the way we recorded events and go forward and connect to who we are becoming.


Sounds like science fiction? It may do, but if we take a moment to think about how we define time we will see that the circular motion is at the base of this concept. When the Earth rotates on its axis we have a day, when the Moon rotates around the Earth we have a Moon cycle for approximately a month, and when the Earth orbits the Sun we have a year. All these are circular motions. For agricultural civilizations, time was measured in seasons and it was circular. There was a planting season and a harvesting season. And they returned without fail, every year. Same for hunter-gatherers. They knew there was a time of the year when the herds of buffalos would be coming to graze in the prairies next to their settlements. And they did. Every single year.


As we have settled in cities and stepped into the industrial era, we have become more and more disconnected from these natural circular patterns and more drawn to view time as linear. We also became open to the notion of fate: when the past determines our future. Someone became an accountant because he liked math in school. Or someone else became a doctor because her father was a doctor and her grandfather too. Lived from this perspective, we are all the product of our past and life becomes simply an outcome of past events that cannot be changed.


But here’s a different perspective. What if instead of fate (which is predetermined and influenced by past events) our path in life could be influenced by destiny, which comes from the future? What if it was the I from twenty years from now, the I that is already a well-known doctor that has guided the teenager that I am now to choose a particular school where I was destined to meet a particular teacher who sparked my passion for chemistry? And because of this encounter and the discovery of this passion I have gone to medical school later. What if sometimes it is not the past but the future that stretches out a hand and informs our choices in the present?


For the hunters of the old age, the fact that the buffalos would come back in the spring was a given. They had an opportunity year after year to meet and recreate this past. To have a successful hunt and change the story of the hunt that didn’t go so well the previous year. There was always a new opportunity to rewrite a story, the stories that defined their lives.


And so it is for us. There are moments when we can go back in time and heal past wounds. Not pretend they did not happen, but heal them. And when we completely heal these wounds it is as if they did not happen because they cease to inform us, they cease to create fate for us.


And so, we free ourselves to become available for our destinies.

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