Instead of meeting for coffee last weekend, my friend Jeffrey and I found ourselves driving up to Solitude ski resort in Big Cottonwood canyon, on a lark. We’d decided to check out a free alpenhorn concert given by a local alpenhorn group.
We arrived at the resort and strolled leisurely in the general direction of a big white tent, following the sound of what must have been pre-concert ambient music. But soon we discovered it was a live quartet of piano, bass, drums and a thirteen foot long alpenhorn in that white tent . . . playing jazz.
And not elevator jazz, but really excellent jazz.
It felt a bit surreal. An alpenhorn? In Utah? Playing really good jazz?
It was a surprise, but in a way, not a surprise.
Jeffrey was getting ready to leave for Burning Man and I was preparing to guide a vision fast. We knew from experience that things get Through-the-Looking-Glass-ish at times like these.
We sat in the shade of the tent, on the green grass, nodding our heads and tapping our feet, attention rapt, as this alpenhorn virtuoso booped and ski-dooped on the most unlikely of jazz instruments.
At the break, Jeffrey and I took a walk up a dirt road for a higher view.
I noticed the skies were all blue with poofy clouds and the rolling green of summer ski runs zoomed down the hills like in The Sound of Music.
Jeffery remarked on one big lone pine tree amongst aspen on the hillside to the north across the road, and the interesting lilting skyline of the peaks beyond. I spoke about flying through big poofy clouds like these for real when I was a kid because my dad had a small plane.
Then we stood in silence, not speaking for a while.
* * * * *
On the way down the canyon, we got into a mesmerizing conversation (usually the case with Jeffrey) about time.
Jeffrey told me he’d recently learned that time is a human construct to measure movement and does not actually exist in nature. He’d been wrapping his considerably sharp mind around this concept the past few weeks.
I brought up an idea that has recently come to my attention about Chronos and kairos, Greek concepts for two different kinds of time. I’d been using these words on my recent medicine walks, telling the walkers that we’d be dropping into vertical time, or kairos for the day (which in truth is exactly what happens as far as I can tell).
Here’s a great definition of Chronos and kairos I found on the Internet:
“Chronos refers to chronological or sequential time. Chronos time is measured by the clock and calendar. It is orderly, rhythmic, and predictable. It is what we moderns typically think of as time.
Kairos time, on the other hand, has a more nebulous meaning. It does not have an equivalent word in English. The least descriptive translation would be ‘in-between-time’ — a moment of undetermined period of time in which ‘something special’ happens. God doesn’t measure season with clocks and calendars, but through truth and revelation.” — KenKamau
* * * * *
Today most grown-ups in America live in speeded up Chronos time all the time. There never seems to be enough of it. We’re always grasping to get more of it and are constantly afraid we’re running out of it.
Yet everyone has had the experience of kairos time . . . after all, we lived this way as children.
But then we grew out of it — into the ‘real’ world — and if we have kairos moments at all, we don’t give them much heed.
This is what I’m coming to understand now: what if kairos time, and our ability to go there, is actually of profound importance?
What if we’re actually suffering greatly from an acute thirst for kairos time; that our souls are shriveling up and wasting away from this lack?
What if to be fully human requires that we are able to shift from Chronos to kairos as needed?
And what if solutions to the huge and seemingly intractable human problems we face new can only be found in kairos time?
When we slow way down, come into immediate presence, are fully in our bodies, and engage what is with open, 'what’s possible?' minds, we have a chance of accessing a different way of knowing; a different way of perceiving and of being. In kairos time, we access a deep, intuitive sense of what’s true, of who we really are behind our personality and conditioning. We become aware of the larger patterns of creation and our place in them.
We also FEEL better. We’re more relaxed, more connected, more authentic, more empowered. I see this over and over and over with people I take out for a day, or for a week.
* * * *
I don’t hang out with Jeffrey that often. But for some reason, when I do, we know how to immediately drop into kairos together and witness the magic behind the matrix. To find awe in happening upon a jazz alpenhornist, to wonder at a lone tree on a hillside, and feel the enchantment of flying through clouds.
And find all the time in the world within a moment.