Wisdom for the Holidays–Timing is Everything

Timing is everything.  Time does not stand still.  Time changes all things.

Standing in a long line at a department store one day, my spouse asked, “Why do we always end up in the longest line?”  I responded, “Because we have not yet learned the virtue of patience.”

 He grinned and groaned simultaneously bracing himself for a philosophical treatise. I really can’t complain because I’m most often in the shorter line, the times I felt lucky.  It also works with parking spaces, too.  My spouse will vouch for me that 98% of the time I will find a parking space on a crowded and busy street.  When my sister, who is also aware of my “luck,” and I were in London and a friend drove us to the opening of Carmen we landed a parking spot  near the door of the theatre.  She looked at me and said, “It works here, too!”

 There is a secret about human movement that everyone should know—the secret of being in the right place at the right time.  Read carefully, because this bit of wisdom will serve you well during the busy holiday season.

 Movement is about timing, rhythm, and sharing space or proximity.  The secret of being in the right place and the right time requires a heightened awareness of movement and changes occurring in your environment including movement of people, air currents, moods, and anything susceptible to change. 

 Change requires movement which occurs in rhythmic cycles.  Athletes are keenly aware of this fact and they train to “peak” at the right time—at game time, or at a championship game, or during a tournament, because they believe and expect a “change cycle” in performance.  Meteorologists report on the rhythmic weather patterns and we prepare our daily routines around their predictions of fair or foul weather. 

 Humans are certainly creatures of rhythmic movements.  Each day we walk or drive by hundreds of people and it is a rare occasion when we bump into someone.  We call it an “accident.”  What do we do?  We say, “Oh, excuse me!”  Bumping into others is an inappropriate social behavior, and if done on purpose, it is a deviant behavior deserving punishment.

 Here are some rules about time and movement that we already observe:

 Rule #1:  We all watch and are aware of everyone else’s movements to prevent bumping into each other!  When you go to the malls and grocery stores the next couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, watch the wave-like movement of shoppers, especially when music is playing in the mall.   You’ll witness shoppers latching on to the rhythm and beat of the music in the way they walk and talk.  When someone zigs, you zag. 

 When you move in rhythm with your environment, you’ll get on and off the merry-go-round of holiday shopping with ease and comfort.  You may even drive into the parking lot of your favorite store just as someone is leaving, as if the parking space was waiting for your arrival.  What perfect timing!  A tip here is that a positive attitude goes a long way in making the rhythm work for you.

 Rule #2:  Timing is cultural!  This means our rate of movement is learned behavior, which begins in our mother’s womb.  We inherit and first move to the rhythm of our parents.  The Hawaiian hula expresses the calm, laid back and carefree aloha spirit of the Islands.  We call it ho’omalimali, or “take it easy.”  When I fly home to Hawaii and get the first whiff of Hawaiian air at the airport, I “automatically” feel less stressed and more relaxed. 

Rhythm includes proximity, or space of movement.  For instance we drive on the right side of the road, and when we push our shopping carts in the supermarket, do we push it on the right or left side of the aisle? And what happens when someone is coming down the aisle on the “wrong” side?  It trips us up!  One day I accompanied my daughter to the military PX in Fort Lewis, Washington, and noticed that the military store had footprints on the floor for shoppers to follow,  and if you wandered off in your own direction, you were kindly reminded to follow footprints.  When we go to another country or visit homes of friends we experience different rules of rhythm and movement.

 So, be aware of the different cultural rhythms and be willing to adjust to the change, as others are constantly making changes for you, too.   This is especially true in non-verbal communication.  If the cashier is moving slower than you, or speaking too rapidly for you, pause and adjust your synchronicity.  If you’re standing in a line and a child in front of you is moving and wiggling all over, it is not the child that is the irritant; it is the off-sync rhythm that is bothering you.  Languages also display different timing.  Do you notice how different languages have different rhythms and accents? Rule #2 requires discipline and effort to recognize and accept different rhythms, then to positively adjust for personal comfort.

 Rule #3:  It’s true and we know it–time stops for no one…which means that change is constant, so expect and recognize it, and make positive adjustments.  You’ll be surprised when what you are looking for will pop up right in front of you at the right time.  For example, you frantically look for pink house slippers for your daughter for Christmas.  Suddenly, you see a pair of red slippers with delicate pearl design.  Wow!   Rather than pushing the red slippers aside, you “suspend” pink, and allow yourself to realize that the red slippers will match her robe which has both red and pink colors in it, and the red slippers are fancy and she’ll love them.  How lucky you are to have been in the right place at the right time because these are the last pair on sale.  So the pink slippers changed to red with pearls and it worked because you “flowed” with change.

 How do you make these rules work for you?  First, a positive mental outlook is necessary to deal with changes, because when we develop a heightened awareness of all movement around us, we dance the “universal dance” respectfully.  We don’t “take up” space, but rather “share” universal space with others.  We stop getting irritated, and instead seek the comfort of synchronicity without blaming others for our discomfort.

 Next, believe that the universe wants to and will supply our needs and all we need do is ask.  We help the process and increase our chances of attaining what we want by believing, visualizing and expecting positive outcomes and they will happen.  The trigger is belief and a positive attitude.  For example, if someone pulls into the parking space at the front door of the store right before you do, know and expect that there is another space waiting for you—for the universe supplies everyone’s needs.  Relax, stay positive and find the rhythm of the universe at the moment.  It will guide you to your parking space.  

 Finally, positive thinking and expectations include not wishing ill on anyone nor envying your neighbor’s property or success.  Negative attitude blocks all opportunities coming your way.

 So my special wish for you as we move into the holiday season is to think positively, visualize and expect positive outcomes, and be aware of and embrace change.  Find the rhythm and dance the dance and you’ll be the luckiest and happiest person standing in short lines, and finding all the right gifts by being at the right place at the right time.

 P.S.  You may want to read The Dance of Life:  The Other Dimension of Time by Edward T. Hall, my favorite cultural anthropologist.