A few years ago I attended a lecture by a psychologist on creativity and chaos theory (yes, really!). In that lecture the speaker outlined the two Ancient Greek concepts of time: (1) kronos – clock time or the passage of time; and (2) kairos – place-time or the experience of time (when you become ‘lost’ in a hobby, activity or a book and time seems to stand still).

The two concepts of time are separate but related. At one extreme, living without dreams, there is pure kronos, and at the other extreme, living in a dream, there is pure kairos.

Stepping out of kronos and into kairos can have huge benefits, however. Many creative breakthrough moments (Archimedes, Einstein, Newton) happen when we are daydreaming. They occur when we are more in kairos than kronos, and relate more to our unconscious than our conscious state.

If we are always ‘doing stuff’, especially in today’s impersonal, technological world, we are pure kronos, but if we really wish to ‘smell the roses’ we must also find ways to step away from kronos and into kairos.

Meditation, reading, exercise and immersing yourself in hobbies are all occasions where you can experience kairos. But it also takes place in small, everyday instances that you can easily miss if you are not ‘in the moment’. And if you miss the moment, you potentially miss the benefits of the creative opportunities associated with it.

How are you ensuring that you are alive to experiencing the opportunities of kairos, and not just driven by the demands of kronos?

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.