Everyday Kairos

One interpretation of the Greek term “kairos” is that it represents a point of maximal leverage for some kind of undertaking.

So while “chronos” means objective, undifferentiated time (measurable seconds, minutes, etc) kairos refers to moments that have a more subjective value.

A minute’s-worth of intense stress or pleasure or psychological significance may thus feel like it lasts ages despite only encompassing a minute of literal, concrete time, and an hour’s-worth of creative work can be kairos-flexible: that same volume of output achievable in a fraction of the time had it instead been performed at a different time of day, while in a different state of mind, or with fewer (or more) distractions.

The idea, then, is that units of time aren’t fungible. One second or minute or day or year is not swappable for any other, as they’re all segments of a resource that’s made unique in its consumption by the countless variables that act upon us while we’re living through them.

One of my ambitions, currently, is rebalancing my weeks so that more of my time feels properly invested throughout the day, not just in the sense of being invested in things I care about, but being expended where it’ll do the most good, provide me with the most leverage at that specific moment.

The goal is to free up more time and energy (and perceptual chronological “space”) for what I’ve come to think of as abundant days, when I feel like I have more time than I can possibly use and consequently don’t feel the need to penny-pinch my moments or delay ambitions that may or may not seem productive within the context of more finite framings.

Vital to this process, for me at least, is making sure I incorporate all the non-obvious things I’d like to incorporate into my schema of “stuff I’d like to do more of.”

The overt, measurable things are relatively simple to juggle: writing and doing daily audio-related work are both simple to notice and emphasize.

My social life, art-making, walk-taking, food-preparing, and other “softer” investments are also important, though, and recognizing, foregrounding, and accentuating such things can be a steeper climb—though I find the other improvements I might make are less satisfying and more brittle lacking these fuzzy, but often (invisibly) foundational elements.

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