Saturday, February 27, 2010

Obsession with Time

As I write this, Hawaii is under a tsunami alert, the result of a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile. Our thoughts are with our island friends as they prepare for the worst.

Shooting a program last summer about the wild horses of Waipio Valley on the Big Island, I spent a day with native Hawaiian, Charlie Anderson. A gentle bear of a man with sun-bronzed skin, a tangle of curly black hair and twinkling blue eyes, Charlie grew up taro farming in that sacred and remote valley. He plans to retire there at 40 to live a simple, off-the-grid life with his young family.

To make that happen, Charlie now works 12-hour days at his landscaping business in town. Time is important to Charlie but it does not rule him. He remains deliberate but unhurried in all he does.

This is a good way to be with horses, too. Just as the typical horse is obsessed with safety, the typical human is obsessed with time. Before I can fairly ask a horse to give up his obsession, I must be willing to give up mine.

As guiding principles go, “letting it take the time it takes” is a particularly good one, but we can’t just snap our fingers and change our attitudes about time. And we don’t have to. Sometimes in life it’s okay to pretend. It’s okay to pretend to be interested in what someone is saying. It’s okay to pretend to like the boss’s wife’s cooking. It’s okay to pretend we don’t care how long it takes to load the horse in the trailer. Invariably, pretending we don’t care about time speeds things up. What’s more, the subconscious mind doesn’t realize we’re pretending and before long the feelings become genuine.

Ray Hunt said: “You’re not working on your horse. You’re working on yourself.” Coming to grips with our time obsession is a great place to start.