It occurred to me that the Chaos-Beast we call Time has probably been around as long as humans have been on this planet.  How not?  We made it up!

In this River series of mine, I’ve been trying to get a handle on the whole amorphous conglomeration of our human ways and means of dealing with Time. (It’s been a head-twister!)

One thing I’ve discovered is that because of our very long relationship with the temporal, we humans have developed an incredible array of ways for dealing and even dancing with the Chaos-Beast we call Time.

Rather than embarking on a long (and boring) listicle, let’s take it down to a more personal level.


As a human, your own personal survival has always depended on how well you pay attention to the world and to the other people around you.

You started learning how to behave appropriately in the consensus world, where everybody else you knew lived, by paying attention to the Bigs (who could do things to and for you) as well as to the other Littles who you just knew were likely to make a grab for all the goodies for themselves (the greedy gob-heads!).

index finger aimed at viewer
“Index” by Sami Keinänan via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Baby-you tried all kinds of strategies.  You studied the reactions and the feedback you got when you did this thing or that. You remembered and kept doing the actions that worked.  You discarded the ones that didn’t.

little boy throwing a tantrum
“Isaac tantrum” by Christine Szeto via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
As an adult, you have probably forgotten more ways of moving through the world and playing with Time than you are currently using.

Like every other human in the world, you have a whole back room in your head filled with vague memories of the possible actions you are capable of making.  These alternative actions could be effective if they are appropriate within the context for getting wherever you want to go in the consensus-world you are now inhabiting.

a very messy room
“messy!” by Cat Sparks via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
It’s likely that you probably cannot accurately recall many of the actions you discarded at a young age.


However, there are models walking around in the world today that you could study and emulate if you choose.

(It’s a time-honored strategy. After all, those other guys survived so they must know a thing or two.  They are still out there walking around, and some of them are doing what you want to do, right?)

That’s probably a major factor in the popularity of all those self-help, boot-strapping, make-a-better-you books that fill up bookshelves and remainder bins.

You can choose your own icons and heroes and check out what they did and how that worked out for them.  If you like what you see, you can go do like them.

Pseudo-Superman doing the reveal
“Faster than a speeding bullet” by Leo Leung via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
The one problem with doing that is this: you are not your admired one.  You have your own unique set of abilities and propensities as well as your own resources and circumstances that are likely to be very different than the ones the Big Guy or Gal or Whatever you admire faces.

Sure, you can closely follow everything your hero does, but I’m here to tell you that eating the Breakfast of Champions is probably not going to turn you into someone you are not.

Adopting somebody else’s morning routines or exercises or ways of dressing or mindsets or whatever is one way you can fill up your days.  If you are any kind of successful at it, you will probably be a clone — an imitation Who-Da-Guy.

red socks with thunderbolt designs
“Super hero. #socks” by Mark Mitchell via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
After a while, however, succeeding in becoming a copy gets to be unsatisfactory, it seems.  Under all of the razzmatazz and hoo-hah, it’s still just pretzel-you.

Maybe you might even start developing (gulp) Imposter Syndrome….

Here’s a short 2023 You-Tube video about that from Stanford Medicine.  It was directed by Maya Adam MD, with animation by Matt Torode and soundtrack by Misha Seef.


Our post-industrial productivity bias has given rise to whole libraries of books about Clock-Time strategies and systems and such.  It is massively intimidating.

However, the one thing I’ve noticed is that the Clock Time strategies do tend to block your ability to pay close attention to the world that surrounds you.

old-style pocket watch
“Dominator” by Priit Tammets via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Your mind runs ahead of your feet and your eyes are not seeing anything except the goal – S.M.A.R.T. or otherwise – towards which you are headed.

You stack up a whole repertoire of habits and routines that get things done and done and done and you try your very best to maintain a focus on what you need to do next and next and next.

The thing is, when you turn Time into a wild Chaos-Beast that must be tamed and domesticated, you actually sign up to be a rodeo cowboy.  Beautiful Time becomes an annoyed bucking bronco or maybe even a very angry wild bull.

a galloping horse running free
“Wild Horses” by Sylvia Pellicore via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
You spend your days riding the Beast as it twists and turns and tries everything it can to get you off its back.  All of your days are spent on that critter.

Your habits and routines are meant to limit “stray” thoughts and dampen down any inklings of other ways of being.

Your feelings get squeezed into locked little boxes, all labeled “misery” or “unjoyous” or “have to” and “gotta”.  Your body reactions are harnessed and all of your personal energy is pressed into service and aimed at reaching for your (or somebody else’s) all-important goals.

After a while, there isn’t anything else in your world except the thought-construct that you are determined to manifest – to make come real.

Many people have lived their whole lives doing this.  Some have reached their big goals and dented the world around them.  Many more have been broken by their attempts to climb up onto the Beast.

Rodeo cowboy on horse
“Rodeo” by Randy Peters via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]


Confucius once opined, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

person sitting on steps that lead to a river
“The Thinker” by Ruth Hartnup via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
A lot of the old wise guys seem to agree that paying attention to what is right in front of you and checking out what is happening all around you as you suss out the contexts, nuances and the back stories of situations through which you are walking is what helps you reach clarity about the world in which you are living.

It is this clarity that can help you actually see more of the various options that are available to you at any given time while avoiding at least some of the more bitter experiences.

Because you can see more of the different options available, it becomes possible for you to uncover the best actions you could make that might lead you to a different and better route to your desired objective.

bicycle at a fork in the road
“Elegir – Choose” by Gutifoll via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Clarity may get fuzzed-out when you keep your eyes focused on the calendar and clock and the roaring of the grumpy Chaos-Beast you’ve conjured does not allow you to reflect and ponder on what you are doing.


Okay.  Down to the simple that is not so simple after all.  (Trigger alert:  this gets a lot woo-woo.)

What is your “reality” made up of?

  • Your past or where you have been.
  • Your present or where you stand now.
  • Your future or where you want to be tomorrow.


Did you notice that your reality is all tied up in Time?

Now, suppose we carry the river and the journey metaphors a bit further.  Suppose you are walking alongside the river Time.  The progression of your reality then looks like this to you:

(Infinity) PAST –>

NOW (a progression of infinitesimal smidges) –>

FUTURE (Infinity)

  • When you look behind you, there is an infinity of Past moments through which you’ve already walked.
  • The Now-moment becomes part of the Past as soon as you go through it. (You probably don’t notice because there are so many moments that make up what you see as Now.  They just look like a block of time.)
  • And every Now-moment is a very, very small bit of time that comes out of the Future infinity of moments of potentiality that are coming at you and through you and past you at a speed that is faster than thought.

Wo!  What a mind-boggle!

It should be noted, I think, that this is probably the way most regular folks see Time.

Now comes the second part.

reflections in the river water
“Riverside Walk” by andressolo via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Look at that river that you walking beside.  Has it ever occurred to you that maybe that river is actually flowing the other way?

(Infinity) FUTURE –>

NOW (an infinitesimal smidge) –>

PAST (Infinity)

Ummm…that one’s an even bigger boggle!

Mystics and some of the more out-there creative sorts seem to be comfortable walking along the Time river in a different direction than regular peeps.  Their field notes when they’re really into it tend to be so esoteric and Other that it leaves the rest of us with our heads in a spin.

Some of us regular sorts go find gurus and get into all kinds of interesting adventures.  Some explorers of the Mystic don’t survive the trip, which may be why your Mama whacks you upside the head every time you get silly like that.

stern woman delivering a slap
“She’s Mad” by Fernando de Sousa via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]


Here are some take-aways about all these things that you might want to ponder:

  1. The reason NOW is the only time when you can do anything is because Future-moments are only potential and what might be. (There are a heck of a lot of them and all of them are just sitting there, a part of Infinity, waiting for you to turn them into Now-moment smidges.)
  2. Nothing can turn the potential Future-moments into Now-moments until you (or any other living being) goes through them. You are the catalyst — an agent, an action-taker — and, for real, you are the center of your universe.  Without you in your life there is no Now.  Time is all just Infinity.
  3. And because Past-moments already happened, they can’t be used any more. They are gone, back into the Infinite.

(This bit of mind-boggle was brought to you by assorted Taoist wise guys and indigenous hunter-gatherer types and master craftsmen, artists of all sorts, traders, and other Makers down through the ages who actually adapt to and cooperate with the flow of the Time river in order to get to where they want to go.)

And then there is this thing:

Ponder on that one.  As hardcore poet Charles Bukowski and professional bard Berthin Robusquet (who put up this video on YouTube in 2023) asks, “Will you truly hear the music?”

Only you can decide whether that is some place you want to go.


I just realized that I have now made it to the jump-off point where I am finally ready to bring this thing on home.

However, I’ve run out of space again and while I really, really want to finish this thing off, even I have to admit this is a good resting spot.  (I can only hope you haven’t run out of patience with me).


Here’s a poem:


I am noticing
When you find a solidity,
An alignment in the
Middle of your being
As you execute some twirling
Progression of moves that spin you
Right across the stage, just so,
And you find the place that is
A perfect starting placement
For your next series of moves…

Right there,
Where your hands touch the hands
Of another standing ready
Who has just reached their own starting point
For their own next moves,

Then all the dizzy-making grind of
Spin and step,
Spin and leap,
Spin and twist and turn
Again, again, again,
Coalesce inside you as a place
That has become a familiar rest stop
As you move and move and move again
Until you meet that other one
Who has been doing that same grind.

It all makes sense then,
This thing you keep insisting on doing.

[by Netta Kanoho]

Header photo credit: “Presence” by Hartwig HKD via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you.)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “STOP PUSHING THE RIVER — Part 5

  1. Netta,

    Your exploration of Time as the Chaos-Beast is both thought-provoking and enlightening. I appreciate the reminder to pay attention to the world around us and the various ways humans navigate the temporal river.

    The metaphor of walking alongside Time, reflecting on the past, experiencing the present, and anticipating the future, adds depth to the understanding of our reality. Your unique perspective challenges conventional productivity approaches, inviting readers to consider alternative paths.

    Looking forward to the continuation of this insightful journey.

    Warm regards,

    1. Yay!  Thanks for the encouraging words, Dirk!  I’m glad this series has value for you.

      Please do come again.

  2. It was a very long, but very interesting article and thoughts.

    I completely agree with the point about the dangers of imitation. While learning from others can be valuable, trying to be someone else is ultimately unfulfilling.

    The part about ‘Imposter Syndrome’ resonated with me, especially the link to productivity obsession. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of chasing goals and forgetting to enjoy the present moment.

    1. Irene, thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts.  I am so glad the post resonated with you. 

      Please do come again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *