HOW LONG WILL MY GRIEF LAST? Kronos Time vs. Kairos Time

The Ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first was Kronos (as in the English words chronological or anachronism). We know Kronos as clock time – time that is measurable by seconds, minutes, hours, or years. Kronos time is linear, sequential time, gauged by a calendar, and describes the breadth of the past, present, and future. Kronos time is on a tight leash, moving inexorably out of the past toward a fixed future, with a dearth of freedom or movement. Kronos time is full of deadlines, schedules, agendas, and annoying beeps. In Kronos time, you measure moments, making it totally quantitative time.

Kairos time is qualitative. If you are counting Kairos time, you are in carpe diem mode, where you seize the day, hour, or fleeting second. Kairos time is capturing the right moment, the opportune time, the perfect minute. Kairos time signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which things transpire. Kairos is spiritual time that is creative and full of serendipity. It is the time of fantasies and cannot be restrained. Kairos is globular, oscillating back and forth, without the constraints of limiting boundaries. Kairos time slows life down vs. Kronos time which is all about speed.

The Greeks personified Kronos, (aka Saturn, to the Romans), as an old Father Time-type character, hunched over with a long grey beard, carrying a scythe and an hourglass. I picture him as a very aged Michael Gambon in Harry Potter. On the other hand, Kairos, (aka Caerus, to the Romans), was personified as a great looking youth, with a lock of hair hanging across his forehead. He represents the expedient, or opportune occasion, since opportunity never gets old, and beauty is always applauded. He stands on his tiptoes because he is always running, and has wings on his feet to fly with the wind. I think of him as a cool Liam Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston kind of guy. OK, I really see a young Cary Grant but that ages me to the max. Was anyone ever as cool as Cary Grant?

When Peter died, I was mired in Kronos time. I measured my time in seconds. I couldn’t fathom how I would get through the next minute, let alone make it through the day. I stared at the clock, pleading for sleep to alleviate my pain. I tried to keep busy to ward off the shock and pain. I was in a Kronos mindset and it took time to change my outlook.

After almost a year and a half, I am beginning to immerse myself in Kairos time. I am open to capturing new memories and treasure the fleetingness of life. I am cataloging these good moments to put in my new treasured album of recollections. I am trying to keep Kairos time, by giving each moment a purpose. I am trying to savor and cherish each moment, and stop running long enough to enjoy the view. How long will this take? My Kairos gauge says it will take as long as I need and I’m okay with that.

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