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Carolyn North, in her 80th year mystic on “HOW MUCH TIME DO WE HAVE?”

Carolyn sends me her writings. THANK GODDESS! We share our intuitive research and discover we are often on a parallel track! 

Like me, Carolyn is a life-long dancer and embodied researcher of life and wisdom. She’s been a scholar of 12th century manuscripts at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, a midwife in India, an English teacher at Fudan University in Shanghai, a member of a geological expedition to the Galapagos Islands, and a gospel singer. Check out her website Healing Improvisations or her facebook page to get her most recent communiques. 


Here she is on a haunting question:  How Much Time Do We Have?

Lately, I’ve been wondering about civilizations long before ours, curious about what evidence of long-ago lives might be resting beneath the seas of the world. I am reading about “mythic cycles of creation and destruction by flood stretching back hundreds of thousands of years,” and of ruins recently uncovered in Indonesia dating back 28,000 years, making the pyramids in Egypt seem recent in comparison.

People lived there, loved and died on the same earth we now inhabit. Who were they and what did they know? How many eons of life and experience are hidden beneath the earth and oceans, unseen and unknown by us? 

How old are we as a species, anyway? Meanwhile, I watch myself age, although I could swear I was still a kid figuring it all out. 

I had lunch recently with a man who won a Presidential medal for Science from President Obama. The last time I saw him, during our year in India in the late sixties, he was a four-year-old, the son of my friend Rumi.

It just so happens that his daughter – Rumi’s grand-daughter – now lives in Berkeley, so I am one of her ‘aunties.’ She actually reminds me a bit of her great-grandfather, who I met in Calcutta on a trip with Rumi to meet her parents, so I can tell Akaina about the great-grandparents she never knew. In the short years of my own life I have met four generations of the same family! 

Where did the time go? 

But that’s what time does, it goes by. And fast! Why was I thinking I could actually change the world during my own little lifetime – the brevity of which came home to me last week when I had a love-at-first-sight experience with a man I met. It was mutual, I think, and we were both a bit dazzled. I began daydreaming, and then we discovered that he and one of my children were in first grade together! 


Somehow, this reminds me of John, my bullying boyfriend who clung to me like a limpet when we were both seventeen. For two years I tried unsuccessfully to shake him off until one night, in despair on a cold and windy streetcorner in Manhattan, I begged him for release, sobbing, 

“It’s because I want to be good!”

I will never forget that moment of truth and how it felt. It was my soul speaking through my stuck frustration, reminding me that I had an essential self that was not being met. John was good looking, smart and even played the violin, but I did not love him and knew I never would. Some deep instinct for authenticity burst out of me that night and John finally could hear it. In that moment, I knew that ‘being good’ was the same thing as ‘loving.’  Nothing less. He was not happy, but finally accepted that I did not love him. 

A few years ago, just days before he died, he phoned to tell me goodbye. We talked about our leavetaking that long ago winter night, and he admitted I had been right, that I was way too idealistic for him, and eventually it would have driven him crazy. 

Me too, I thought, deeply touched by his call after all those years. For the first time, I told him that I loved him. 

It was around that time in my late teens that I was reading Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest who was also both a geologist and paleontologist, and I suspect it was his vision of evolution and love in the world that helped me to know that John could never understand this, but I would. 

Teilhard wrote,

“The most telling and profound way of describing the evolution of the universe would undoubtedly be to trace the evolution of love.” He measured evolution, not in terms of our short human lifetimes, but in terms of rocks and bones resting in the earth for untold millenia. “Deep hope flows over deep time,” he wrote, noting a definite upwards movement towards consciousness on the cosmic scale, however the rising and falling of the human story ran from day to day. He claimed that when we lost sight of this longer pattern, the result was anguish and impatience.

Yes! I have known both the anguish and the heart-pounding love, even when it seems entirely inappropriate – like with my child’s friend.

I’ve come, since John, to judge my own evolution by how spontaneously I am able to love, especially when I least expect it, when love slips into crevices I had no idea were there. A boy on a bus; a woman on the checkout line at a grocery store.

I experience it as this sifting up of joy beneath all the comings and goings of everyday life. When I fall in love, which is fairly frequently, I can feel its sounds in my body like the vibrations of an ethereal bell making me happy.

I wonder if our evolution resides in the impulses of that profound instinct for love that persists in the world no matter what gets in its temporary way. Wars and violence, of course, but also the earth changes that last thousands of years – ice ages that lock whole continents under ice and snow; massive floods covering parts of the earth for millenia? Not once, but again and again. 

We humans have persisted, haven’t we? I wonder about those people, the animals and plants that lived and died in those days and nights uncountable – what did they learn from their lives? Do we carry their DNA and hold, in some fashion, what they experienced and learned? Who were they, and who are we?

Who knows? But for better or for worse here we are, making one mistake after another and falling helplessly in love over and over again, right? 

And for each of us it all takes place for a meager handful of decades, while we learn whatever we can learn through every adventure imaginable, and when it’s over we have to make way for the next generation to do the same. 

But even when we think it’s over, I believe it’s not over. The end of one phase transitions to the beginning of the next and beneath it all – even when things look hopelessly bleak – the deep hope persists and the trend is ultimately towards the good.

We can lean towards one another and press our combined weight onto the ever-moving wheel of love. We know how to do that, so why wait?

As Teilhard has said,

“Deep hope flows over deep time.” And then,

“There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”

Yes, my dear love. 

The only thing I would take out is the word ‘almost’ before the word ‘sensual.’

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