Attending to Time

A full moon behind a tree with a dark blue night sky

Reading Time: Just over 7 minutes
Live deeply, broadly, and grandly. Be spiritually ambitious. Engage with life.  Act.  Ask questions. Answer them. Test your answers . . .

“Yes, all that might well disappear, that cultural effort which seemed to us wonderful (and I am not speaking merely of the French effort). At the rate at which we are going, there will soon not be many to feel the need of it, to understand it; not many left to notice that it is no longer understood. 

One strives to strain one’s ingenuity to shelter those treasures from destruction; no shelter is safe. A bomb can do away with a museum. There is no acropolis that the flood of barbarism cannot reach, no ark that it cannot eventually sink. 

One clings to wreckage.”   

–André Gide, Journals, September 10, 1939

The Wise Ones

I have thought to write about Time.

We degenerate. 

The wise ones utilize their youth to ward off Time’s assault. They ask—what is the cause of this process? How can I beat it? Who am I? Where do I come from? Where will I go when I die? The people whose words we remember – figures like Buddha or the great sage Nanchuan, for example – devoted their lives to, and answered, these questions, leaving a record for us to consider when facing our lives.

Reading André Gide

In addition to Buddha and Nanchuan, I have read the Journals of André Gide (1869-1951)—all of them—to the end. He finishes life reading La Fontaine’s Fables and Virgil’s Aeneid (in Latin) (which I’ve read in English). And though I respected these works, before knowing they were the last works Gide read, for me, nothing had imbued them with especially mortal significance. Only after his death—and by virtue of it—did I think they must be particularly significant—as if Gide knew when he was going to die and re-read them—of all the possible works produced by humanity—to answer the questions that remained for him at the end of his life. 

But I think this is the wrong way to think about these works; and that it is more correct to realize that Gide merely died as he lived: Reading. Studying. Reflecting. And that we, too, shall die as we live.

The Last Glow

La Fontaine’s and Virgil’s works are not the summit of human wisdom. They are not the peak expression of meaning in life. They are merely the works that appeared in the last glow of Gide’s consciousness—like the last bits of a stream one might see before the moon sets behind a mountain, the last fragments of life illuminated by that moon called ‘Gide.’

Each of us with our life, occupies Time. Our individual stream of consciousness begins with our birth and disappears with our death—like the moon’s light, we cast our gaze on terrestrial sites for a relatively short while before setting into darkness.  And if we’ve lived, parts of what we see in our short journey are recorded or conveyed to others in words that reach out beyond ourselves into a larger whole, a larger community, a larger movement. Our expressions become public domain. All of us leave a mark, a trace, a vibration in the universe. Gide was aware that one’s mind leaves behind a signature, a portrait and a form of itself, and he sought to shape his life and form hoping it would help us understand and come to terms with our life, our death—and our relationship to Time.

Gide’s Light

Gide’s light set with his death and took with it its brilliant grays, its sound of the pebbles of the night’s stream rolling over themselves, tinkling in a rapid current, its soft light bejeweling as if with diamonds the dark leaves of oaks and ferns, its longing. 

The moon vanishes with its light, its mood, its particular landscape, its nightscape! But a day follows. It rises—our day—populated by a thousand—ten thousand—new and active instances of color, sound, movement, shape, and light. This is the world of the living. 

Our Day

In our day, Gide’s light is altered. 

Perhaps we read what he—and many others—wrote and are refreshed by the beauty and humor and joy. We discern these records here and there in our wakefulness—traces of what Gide brought forth for us from the dark, and the records of many others’—their accounts of thousands and thousands of nights and of thousands of nights before theirs. Indeed—a thousand nights avail us in a day. 

But how do we record our evening. What hopes do we have for what our life-gaze will bring forth for the earth? For others? For our ability to articulate what we see in our gazes, to reach beyond ourselves into another’s day—to become part of the beautifully illuminated everlasting night from which we draw the strength to live. 


Night is death.

Night is the unknown.

Night is the world beyond seeing.

Night is the world of secrecy. Of sorcery and philosophy and religion—the world of magicians and poets and saints. 

Of monsters.

But avoiding the night blinds us to day. We need to look where it’s dark, where we’re vulnerable. Pure. And say what we see there.

Moonlight is Sunlight

Moonlight is sunlight. The sun’s light is reflected to earth from a large stone. And by virtue of this light we see at night, and by this seeing we’re able to see night’s beauty and carry it with words into daylight. 

Yet we unceasingly hurl ourselves into night-lessness: destroying our darkness at every turn—destroying the body of Time. 

We imprison ourselves in days without night. In Time without darkness’s sounds. 

Perhaps this is why people cannot rest, why we are burned out, or no longer wake up fuller and more ourselves because we have not spent some few hours not knowing, not seeing, not thinking, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. Or we have not spent an evening under the lustrous Milky Way—with its thousands upon thousands of distant stars, making up that awesome body’s galactic tendrils, which spiral out past our sun into space that extends trillions upon trillions of miles beyond distances we cannot fathom but from which, despite our feeble capacities, light reaches from the past and touches us.

What does it mean to lose sight of such a nightly wonder? Not to see it? To forget it? To replace it with cuts of digital script on a screen.


But these screens at night are also points of light—issues of time that project us beyond ourselves into the not-yet-come-eternally-virgin future: fresh with the promise of redemption and possibility.

Or do our screens fill us with inescapable regrets: silences, carelessness, or laziness that makes for unreturned messages announcing that we’ve done something hurtful or wrong—that we have botched our handling of Time, our handling of another’s breath or attentions—that we have somehow wasted, diminished, degraded, narrowed, or besmirched someone’s access to a more fulfilling future. 

Myriad are the ways we cripple, mar, and mismanage Time. How, then, to take care, to preserve and protect it—this diminishing natural resource—if not by study of night? If not by our thorough study of Time?

Study Time 

To study Time—don’t meditate. Don’t sit dumbly like a stone.

Rather, polish your life. Study your mind with language. Recognize and appreciate and celebrate the triumphs of others – a masterpiece by Turgenev, or Chekhov, by Buddha, Dōgen, or Gide—or any of those from whom you draw inspiration to live. 

Read. Reach out beyond yourself. Read Robert Grudin’s book, for example: Time and the Art of Living

Live deeply, broadly, and grandly. Be spiritually ambitious. Engage with life.  Act.  Ask questions. Answer them. Test your answers. This makes for good neighbors. 

The Stuff of Meaningful Friendship

Intellectual activity is the stuff of meaningful friendship. The purpose of freedom. The substance of functional democracy. Don’t be the sorrowful Shakespearean King who proclaimed, “I wasted time and now doth time waste me.” Go fishing. Plan a picnic. Surf. Play a game of chess with a friend.

Attending to the Good means attending to Time. And in doing so we heal the body and mind. And if we don’t, what we suffer is assuaged by its having a meaning. 

The Good

Study religion, study culture and life, study Time itself and engage in that study with friends. This is the way of all who’ve ever understood and made the most of Time. It is the way to protect the cultural efforts which in turn protect us. We harvest our souls for the Good, and in turn, the Good nourishes our souls and the souls of those sure to come after us.

Wisdom is necessarily generous.

Study your life, study the Good, and live that life, that Good, in Time.

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Joshua Levy
Joshua Levy
I have bee seeing Soken for while now. If you have some sort of lingering physcial malady go see him, don't wait. He's pretty busy and it might take some time to get in so call right now. Some of my injuries and pain that I have had for years have been greatly relieved by his rolfing work and he's also just a great human being. I would totally go see him for his other services as well. Rolfing doesn't need to be super intense though it can be. He will calibrate to what you need
Philippa Newman
Philippa Newman
I cannot recommend Soken highly enough. He will literally transform your life. I first came to meet Soken for his Rolfing services when I had been living with unbearable lower back pain for over a year. Numerous visits to doctors, various x-rays and months of physical therapy later, I was no better off and desperate to find an alternative solution. Having read about Rolfing as a technique, I discovered Soken's practice in NYC. I am now back pain free and able to do things I thought no longer possible. As I learned more about Soken during our Rolfing sessions, I became interested in his spiritual life coaching /contemplative guidance program. His carefully tailored program has given me enormous insight, and I am a better person, mother and leader as a result. Soken has a calming, peaceful and reassuring presence, and I am extremely grateful to have met him when I did.
A Rice
A Rice
Soken is an amazing coach that will get to the essence of your issues. Difficult issues seem to become easier handle talking to Soken. He is a great coach to have, especially in these times. He is clear and ensures you leave each session with an understanding and a plan of action.
Maya Kumits
Maya Kumits
I’ve been going to Soken for years for my bodywork and sending everyone I know to him too. The work he does with his hands is incredible - I cannot say enough good things. This review, however, is for life coaching. I was faced with a decision recently that I was having trouble making. I was going in circles. I kept changing my mind because I ultimately had no idea what to do. I felt lost and confused. I reached out to Soken for help and was so glad I did. After struggling for weeks trying to figure out the right thing to do, a 1-hour call with him gave me the clarity I needed. By answering a series of thoughtful questions and hearing my answers reflected back to me, I was able to untangle the signal from the noise. By the end of the call, the answer revealed itself. It’s been a few weeks since our call and I still feel great about the decision. I’m so grateful to Soken for helping me with this and won’t hesitate to reach out again for more life coaching.
Marni Gordon
Marni Gordon
I highly recommend Soken as he's a fantastic coach! Soken really helped me set clear goals and measures, helped me to get to insight, and ensures that I have a strong action plan with accountability in every session. Soken's coaching helped me overcome the fear of taking the next step. Soken is sensitive and provides compassionate support through the process.
faraz khan
faraz khan
Soken is an exceptionally intelligent person who seems to understand any multiple of bodily issues. I've been struggling with a reoccurring injury the past few years, and already after the first session I can sense a lot of good has been done. I highly recommend him to anyone 😊
Shonni Silverberg
Shonni Silverberg
I got to know Soken as a client of his Rolfing practice, where his expertise was immeasurably valuable in treating my plantar fasciitis. During the COVID crisis, Soken introduced me to meditation. Practicing under his guidance has been extremely helpful in these turbulent times. Shonni J. Silverberg, M.D., New York, NY
Anaina Mascovich
Anaina Mascovich
The meditation guidance and talk last night was phenomenal. I have had instruction on Metta meditation before, but your explanation offered so much wisdom and direct understanding. Much Gratitude to You Soken.
Lena Elkousy
Lena Elkousy
This review is long overdue, and I would give 10 stars if I could. I cannot recommend Soken's work highly enough. Rolfing is an investment in my physical and emotional health that I wish I had made long ago. To put it quite simply, Soken has changed my life. When we work together, he listens to what I say and what my body says, and works with me right where I am. He is a true healer. In our first series of sessions, he permanently relieved shoulder/neck pain and unfurled a chronic knot that no amount of years of deep tissue massage could even touch. One side of my ribcage was bound with fascia and scar tissue from physical and emotional trauma, to the point that I couldn't breathe into my lower right lung without feeling cramping in surrounding muscles. Over a few sessions, he set me free, and you can actually see the difference in the shape of my ribs. In a series other sessions, he relieved sharp cramping in my feet that I've dealt with since childhood. As a yogi and meditator myself, I find Soken's integrative approach quite profound. Do yourself a favor and an act of self love: and go see this wizard.
Stella Nyla Jules
Stella Nyla Jules
Soken has been transformational in improving and diminishing the increasing pain in my neck and shoulder that traditional physical therapies failed to resolve. His patience, caring, and intuition are top notch.


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