Opening and Closing Time

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By Maria Padhila

On some rare occasions, all of us involved in this triad want the same thing at the same time, and that thing is a nap.

Poly Paradise at Burning Man. Photo by Eric.

Poly Paradise at Burning Man. Photo by Eric.

We’re all at the busy season — the nature of Issac’s and Chris’s work, though very different, is seasonal. My work just happens to be busy right now. I suppose it beats the alternative, which many people I know are suffering through right now.

Then there’s my favorite burn coming up, and this year that event is fraught with difficulty and confusion; the spring burner show, which we weren’t going to do, but now there’s a smaller version brewing; the month-long annual art and performance that wasn’t annual last year but has suddenly roared back into life; another arts festival starting up that I want to help with; the surge in outdoor activities, which means more running, more races; my daughter got tapped for a dance group that means I spend an hour or more as chauffeur; and there’s a garden to put in.

Winter had no breaks. Isaac and I both are getting sandwiched as both sets of our parents face health problems that need our help and attention. A stupid routine physical for insurance uncovered a problem of my own that I have to get corrected. Luckily, I can wait until the day after Mercury goes direct for an outpatient surgery. We’re trying to plan summer childcare and vacations and family time and never knowing who is going to be sick — or worse. No one knows when their job will end or when a sniper will start shooting.

And there’s that end of the world thing, too.

It’s very easy to let it snowball, to go out of control and catastrophize. When the three wheels on the “tricycle,” as Isaac’s brother calls our design for living (and he’s visiting in a week, so that needs to be planned for as well) start going in three different directions, well, they fall off.

One recent Sunday there was some dispute about who I would spend time with. I usually spend Fridays with Chris, and he adjusts his work accordingly. Some Fridays I have to work or help friends or relatives with child care, so I usually plan a make-up date. If Isaac gets one of his rare days off on the make-up date day, he thinks I should drop it, because he can’t adjust things as easily. Isaac usually feels my make-up dates are already accounted for by the long weekends Chris and I get to spend together. Chris feels like Isaac shouldn’t kick, because he gets whole weeks away with me, and every night besides.

On that Sunday, deux ex machina, there in my phone showed up a notice that there would be a show rehearsal. I texted both of them. Chris’s response was to tell me to blow off rehearsal. I think you can imagine the kind of reception that got. Isaac thought it would be fine for me to go to rehearsal, because at least I wouldn’t be adding to the Chris time.

Three different directions.

Then rehearsal was canceled. I spent the morning with Isaac, then I went out and dug the garden with Chris. Nobody was entirely happy, but somehow, it works out.

I don’t know which I hate more: missing out on something, or doing a half-assed job at it. This is what Isaac pointed out to me, as I tried to tell him how I could manage to get everything done: “You beat yourself up when you don’t do what you feel is a good job at all this,” he said. “And what happens when you’ve got too much going on? I get marginalized, is what I’m seeing.”

I can’t let that happen.

I’ve reached that point where things curve back in on themselves, where busyness goes into this bizarre quantum direction where you can’t even see what you’re missing or where your time is going because you can’t stop long enough to figure it out. There’s a poly therapist I’d like to consult, but I don’t have time. I can’t even get much help from astrology — my Planet Waves subscription is messed up, and I haven’t had time to call and fix it. It’s laughable. Last night I had a dream that I couldn’t walk a straight line — literally. I had to dance, slide, weave, pull myself along, and I had three or more miles to go to get to work.

The only thing that helps is being old enough to know that none of it really matters too much in comparison with my top priority. I’m in the moment with my daughter, whenever I’m with her. I can pay her good attention, talk, laugh. There’s a kind of yoga to keep myself from getting snappy and stressed out when I’m with her. It works as long as it’s just her. Add one or more other people asking for something from me, and I start getting unable to complete a sentence.

But when I ‘set aside time’ and let nothing else interfere, it’s as if I have escaped time. I have evenings with Isaac where I entirely forget work and all that I have to do and just enjoy being with him, riffing on things we’ve seen in the news, telling him my new weird ideas, cooking… that day in the garden with Chris, I lost track of time. All I have to do is know there’s a block no one else can interfere with, and it’s as if we’re on a different time track from the rest of the world. Technology, when it’s used right and when I’m in that multi-tracking mode, can enhance the effect: if I text one or the other, for instance, it’s as if I’m both inviting them into the time I’m living and as if I’ve doubled my available amount of time.

I was trying to explain this to Chris, and he started telling me about a woman he knows who collects different kinds of time, and I realized he thought I had said “thyme.”

Every spring equinox I make a collage out of magazine pictures and words. It’s a goofy, primitive, 13-year-old girl magic, but one I’ve found works powerfully. It’s at least as strong as the ‘root work’ of my ancestors. I’ve always worked magic with the materials that come to hand: salt, dirt, a scrap of brown paper bag, a piece of red ribbon from a package. And who’s to say the magic of a 13-year-old girl isn’t the strongest ever? This year I focused my vision and desire on my ongoing struggle with time and money. That Saturn, he’s been running back and forth over my natal Mars, Mercury, and Sun in Libra like a Caterpillar backhoe on a McMansion construction site. I’ve always had my struggles with Father Time, with the Saturn/Mars square that sits on my enthusiasm and stomps out my will. A few years back, I did a serious piece of magic, with Saturn in the court of Libra. Mercury and Venus testified. The upshot was that he was told that he was throwing off the whole works with his excessive force, and that he would have to behave if he wanted to be allowed to participate at all. I know it was dangerous; but Venus has a good effect on him.

In my collage, I found a photo of a woman in an evening dress on a paddleboard. I pasted an Omega watch face over her face. Time is her brain. She’s a clock face. I have made my intention clear: to master time.

There’s a saying in polyamory: Love is infinite, but time is limited. I believe I intend to test the boundaries of that one. I’ll keep you posted.

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16 Responses to Opening and Closing Time

  1. Carrie says:

    “Carrie: What I was getting at is that it sounds like the people in your life are projecting their feelings about death onto you. Since you can’t resolve that for them, maybe you could just relax and let them resolve it themselves.”


    I have no idea where you get that out of what I wrote. I just don’t see the connection between their fear of losing my time (which for them equals love) and their feelings about death. Can you elaborate?

  2. pam says:

    ps. Your relatiohship with Isaac isn’t negotiable in a sense. That is solid then. Valuable.

  3. pam says:

    Hello everyone. Read before to Carrie’s first comment, and am out the door now without the time to read the rest of the thread.

    Maria often these things are oblique: more heart gives more time: love is not bound by time and space. what is the point of technically stepping into elastic time without heart: make sure to keep heart and develop it.

    D’you want to be a woman with a clock for a face? Pretty arid? Blind?

    Also time isn’t the question. it’s heart.

    i think. Even if your heart is in seeking more time?


    love Pam

  4. Sam says:

    Carrie: What I was getting at is that it sounds like the people in your life are projecting their feelings about death onto you. Since you can’t resolve that for them, maybe you could just relax and let them resolve it themselves.

  5. Carrie says:


    Thanks for posting that. I have experienced that Chiros time but it is usually not something I can “make” happen so much as it “happens” when I am least focusing on it. Therein lies the problem; the moment one tries to focus on Chiros time, it becomes linear time and feels like linear time. Trying not to focus is still focusing on “something” which serves to mess up that wonderfully free feeling that Chiros time is. A dilemma for sure.

  6. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    “Time = Love is a linear model. That’s not how emotions work, and it’s not as far as I can see how friendships develop over the decades.”

    maybe not, but it certainly seems easy for it to start *feeling* like that. and once you do, it can be damn hard to find your way out.


    btw, on the subject of time (and i am in no way an expert on this — i struggle with mr. saturn and his linear time all the time) this seems like one of those threads where some exploration of different kinds of time might fit. after all maria, you did just say you’re hoping to bend time, right?

    in fact, just a few nights ago, i joked with eric about my difficulty with time getting away from me regularly. he mentioned that one of einstein’s experiments had to do with setting a clock in a train station and one on a moving train perfectly in sync — and that at the end of the journey, the clock on the train actually had moved less — time had gone slower on the moving train.

    i said maybe i should just live on trains all the time, and maybe i’d have enough time to get shit done.

    anyway, what i was actually trying to get to was chronological time vs. chiros (kairos) — that is, the linear time ruled by saturn vs. the sort of “in the now” time related to making decisions and chiron.

    zane stein talks a a little about it here:

    he writes:

    CHIROS: Time has usually been considered the realm of the planet Saturn, but in actuality, Saturn only rules one type of time–chronological time [duration]. Chiros (Kairos) represents time that is outside that realm—time that obeys an entirely different set of laws [if it does, indeed, obey any laws at all]. It is this time that Einstein referred to in his explanation of relativity: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute—and its longer than any hour. That’s relativity.” And it is also this concept that Robert Heinlein focuses on, when [in his book, Stranger in a Strange Land] he has his character Michael Valentine Smith talk about a ‘cusp’—a time when all else fades away, and all attention is turned to the making of a crucial decision. Chiros has even been called ‘timeless time’. Many people have been able to enter this type of time through deep meditation. Remember that Chiron’s orbit is, for the most part, beyond Saturn, and that will assist you in contemplating a time which is not ruled by the clock or the calendar.

    which sounds great, though personally i seem to struggle with even visiting that kind of time, let alone living it. though i may get glimpses, i guess. anyway, maria — it sounds like chiros kicks in when you’re focused on your daughter — so maybe you’re hot on the trail of bending time, after all.

  7. Carrie says:

    ****I don’t believe that polyamory is a “lifestyle,”*****

    Me neither but in my 20’s I had to figure that out for myself. With age and experience comes wisdom.

  8. Carrie says:

    I would agree Eric but I have seen too many people for whom time= love so that’s why I mentioned it. In fact, it is the rare friend in my life who doesn’t equate those two and my family certainly does equate them.

    It shouldn’t be that way but for some reason it is for a lot of people and as such it has to be taken into account because those are their feelings and feelings are not wrong or bad.

    It could be argued that time= love is their perception and that if they just change their perception things would be easier but it doesn’t work that way BECAUSE of the feelings attached (I wish I could use italics for emphasis instead of caps; caps imply an intensity I am not meaning).

  9. Eric Francis Eric Francis says:

    Time = Love is a linear model. That’s not how emotions work, and it’s not as far as I can see how friendships develop over the decades.

    I don’t believe that polyamory is a “lifestyle,” thought there is that element for some people. “Lifestyle” is how it looks like on the outside. On the inside to me it feels like an emotional and relational orientation. It is not optional. I can be as monogamous was I want with someone else and my emotional orientation is still poly.

    I am not sure this will make any sense at all to anyone who has not experienced it.

  10. Carrie says:

    I will say (having read other’s comments here) that the time=love thing intensifies when the other person relies on you (as that fulcrum in the V you are living right now) a lot.

    Let me explain; until my daughters get more of a life of their own as young adults, they are quite dependent on me emotionally and get resentful if I add another activity or friend or hobby to my life. One daughter especially resents the time I spend commenting and reading PW. Once her life gets more active (and she spends more time with friends), she will back off from that some.

    It works differently with spouses but not that much and it doesn’t mean they have to add other people intimately if that’s not their thing (you once wrote that Isaac is monogamous and doesn’t seem to want another intimate relationship in his life). It means they can find more things that they enjoy (hobbies, friends, men’s groups, drumming circles, sports, clubs) which will take some of the pressure off you. Doing so is healthy too for them and you.

    At least that’s what several of my therapists told me when I was clinging to my husband like a desperate and insecure leech (not that Isaac is like that; I am describing me only here). Once I began to do things I liked, I began to have other things (and people because my circle of friends grew) to enrich my life instead of just my husband. I feel better, he feels better, and the relationship is healthier and not so co-dependent.

    I am not saying that Isaac is co-dependent or anything like that; just thinking out loud here.

  11. Carrie says:


    I tried doing that but several sentences make no sense because time doesn’t equal life in the same way that it equals love for people. It just doesn’t.

  12. Carrie says:


    You do not need to reassure me. I firmly believe you will find your way; a way that takes into account all of your loves and yourself. I believe this because you always think about others as much as (and more) than you do yourself. I noticed that from the beginning and it is that integrity that I admire.

    If you do figure out how to “bend time” my guess it will happen because you have enlisted the help/cooperation/input of the loves in your life (because you do that already). And I also believe that nothing is written in stone; if bending time one way doesn’t work there’s always other ways so who is to say this cannot be a “work in prgress?” Isn;t that part of the joy of living life?

    How do I know this? Because homeschooling is the same. It is a work in progress in which we try things and if they turn out not to work, we abandon or tweak them and try that. It is ongoing because people change and we are all in it together.

    Keep writing, Maria. Your honesty, compassion, and intelligence is showing. :::smiling:::

  13. Shaun says:

    Maria, I always enjoy your pieces, but this one felt really personal to me. It highlighted some issues I’ve been trying not to wrestle with (while still facing) for a long time. I’m not cut out for the traditional relationship model, but even a monogamous relationship takes too much time! I feel I’m due some big changes, as the Pluto square Uranus is on my Sun, Moon and Saturn opp my Uranus r in the 9th, with the void in the 7th…And! the grand earth trines are basically a few degrees away from my grand earth trine!…the result is that while I crave freedom of choice of how to live my days that is not currently available to me, practically speaking, I know it isn’t sustainable. For Aries to live the duality and not move yet is excruciating!

    Even though you are seemingly traveling towards bending time, and I am craving time to stand totally still, what you said here helped so much to define for me where I want to put my time/life:

    “I’m in the moment with my daughter, whenever I’m with her. I can pay her good attention, talk, laugh. There’s a kind of yoga to keep myself from getting snappy and stressed out when I’m with her. It works as long as it’s just her. Add one or more other people asking for something from me, and I start getting unable to complete a sentence.

    But when I ‘set aside time’ and let nothing else interfere, it’s as if I have escaped time.”

    I feel like this when I’m teaching. It works. The other things can wait.

  14. mariapadhila says:

    Isaac and I were talking about your comment,, Carrie–I’m like ‘she gets it, but the thing is, I’m going to figure out how to change the whole thing. I’m going to BEND time.” Isaac: “good luck with that. You’re like: ‘All right, time: Bend over!'”
    He’s a funny guy. Please be assured I would only do that at time’s request and with full consent. I think of it more as crafting time, persuading time…

  15. Sam says:

    Carrie, it would be interesting to replace the word “love” in your comment with “life” and see how it reads.

  16. Carrie says:

    ****This is what Isaac pointed out to me, as I tried to tell him how I could manage to get everything done: “You beat yourself up when you don’t do what you feel is a good job at all this,” he said. “And what happens when you’ve got too much going on? I get marginalized, is what I’m seeing.”*****

    I have also heard poly people defend polyamory by saying that with more people, there’s more love. While that is true, there’s that little problem with Time. As you said, where love is infinite, time is not.

    Time was the first glitch I came to when I pondered about polyamory and how it works (way back in the 80’s after reading a book about it). This is because people equate time with love. That’s because everyone knows we spend time (when we can) with those things or people we love. If we add additional people (or hobbies) to the finite time pie, everyone (and everything) else gets a bit less time to accommodate that. The things don’t mind (not being alive) but the people do because they equate time with love. So no matter how much communication you have between the people, that time thing (and the fact that with each additional person or activity there’s less time to go around for everyone) is what makes the people involved feel jealous, resentful, fearful, and angry. So there may be infinite love but time = love and there’s not infinite time.

    That means that no matter how anyone slices it, when you add another hobby or person, everyone in the connection gets less time = less love. If I add on a personal hobby, my family resents it even though it makes me happy and that’s because despite their desire to see me happy, they know they are getting less of my time and they feel like that means less love. From what I can see, there’s no solution for it.

    From those I have talked to about this, poly people feel it but non-poly people who relate to poly people feel it even worse because their hearts were never open to that way of life to begin with. To them there’s no payoff for living that way; all they feel is the smaller slice of time=love. To the poly person, the additional love of the additional person helps them compensate for the loss of time = love of one of the other people so it stings a lot less. At least that’s what I have been told.

    This was the reason I never chose to live the poly life back then. I am just too aware of that finite Time Lord on my back (and the time=love connection it has) and I don’t want to deal with the drama and angst and hassle of trying to juggle time and try to please everyone when I knew I might possibly fail at that. Any extra love I might get didn’t feel worth the angst level I would have to go through to get it. Maybe that means I was not cut out for poly living. I know others are, but I am not.

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