Wisdom//

The Ruler and the Compass: Productivity and the Illusion of Time

Just as the circle and line in balance create most effectively, so the ideas of Linear and Cyclic time must be balanced to achieve our highest human potential.

Oleksandr Nagaiets/ Shutterstock
Oleksandr Nagaiets/ Shutterstock

Ruler: a straight strip or cylinder of plastic, wood, metal, or other rigid material, typically marked at regular intervals, to draw straight lines or measure distances.

Compass: an instrument for determining directions, as by means of a freely rotating magnetized needle that indicates magnetic north.

The Shape of Things

There are two fundamentals at work in every aspect of our universe: the line and the circle. These simple shapes and their 3D incarnations, Sphere and Cube, are the blueprints and building blocks for everything under, and including, the sun.

Angles and curves are ubiquitous — their functions practically and theoretically shape our world and are the principle elements behind Nature, Geometry, Music, Science, Art, Anatomy, Dance, Technology, Architecture, Industry, and on and on. The linear and the cyclic always work in tandem: lines and arcs, points and bumps, ins and outs. Time marches forward but the seasons circle back; the Sun will shine its light continuously until it burns out, the Moonlight renews itself monthly. Both entities are vital; one does what the other cannot do, and together they can — and have — created all things.

In human biology, there is an obvious correlation between the masculine and the linear, and the feminine and the cyclic: men are defined by a stick, women by a circle. Commonly, men’s bodies are angular and hard, women’s are soft and rounded; masculinity is associated with pointed aggression, femininity with nurturing embrace. Men launch tiny arrows and women’s eggs languidly hide in waiting. Men experience an increasing build-up to a single climax, women can cycle arousal to climax over and over (and over) again. Men bodies do not change, they are fixed and burn until they stop — women’s bodies are defined by change, they are variable and constantly renew and regenerate to pull off unbelievable feats.

Like the line and the circle, the influences of both feminine and masculine characteristics are vital to human existence — one cannot produce without the other. These inescapable properties surpass their physical realities and extend to the way experience all aspects of life as linear or cyclic, especially Time.

Productivity and The Timetable

In his book Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari identifies the major effects of the Industrial Revolution on our species, one of which is the development and adoption of the Timetable and the idea of a National Standard Time.

For most of our existence, humans lived in accordance with Cyclic, Agricultural time — with Sun, Moon, tide, stars and seasons dictating the shape of our days. We had little use for the notions of year, month, date, hour and minute, and birthdays and ages were vague at best. Clocks and calendars existed of course, but Time varied widely and did not hold the God-like status it enjoys today. Harari shows how the shift to factory work and urban life gave ultimate power to Clock Time — suddenly work begins when it begins regardless of when the sun rises or sets, regardless of harvest, rain or drought. With the appearance of train travel in England comes the unprecedented necessity of it being exactly the same “hour” everywhere, so Greenwich Mean Time and the Timetable are born and driven into practice.

Clock time is linear, Masculine time, and it now dominates the way we operate — in just a hundred years, we have become fully enslaved to the constructs of Timetable and the Timeline. The Clock heeds no one but itself, its lines are rigid, its standards are exacting, and it does not give a hoot about your personal life or the goings-on of the natural world. Today’s humans use these inflexible tools to understand and define our lives, productivity and accomplishments, often to our own disappointment.

Acknowledgement of — let alone adherence to — agricultural, cyclic time is practically obsolete, despite being the primary way people lived for centuries. This is a massive leap in terms of species-development, so it seems no wonder that many of us feel weirdly disconnected and unsure of our place in the world. Now, we must manufacture experiences away from “real” life in attempts to get back to Nature, to get in touch with ourselves, or to make sense of our existence.

Clock time is bound to feel unnatural to all people on some level, but its expectations and demands are most dangerous and detrimental to modern women. For men, Clock time can be doable — even conquerable — but women’s bodies simply do not heed a linear timeline. At the end of the day, we cannot escape our biology.

The Circle Game

It is possible for a man to live his entire life without losing a single drop of his own blood. After maturity the healthy male body does not experience any significant physical changes until age catches up with it — what a sure and stable feeling about life this must give a man, that he can count on his body always being the same! Perhaps this is why clock time is so appealing to them, they don’t have to consider the curveballs.

Of course, the same cannot be said for women — there is transformation, pain and gore built right into our physicality. In fact, shedding one’s own blood is a vital sign of healthy female function.

Our bodies do magic — messy, messy magic. With each new Moon, we cycle through hormonal and physical changes: periods of fertility and infertility, of energy and lethargy, of happiness and despair, of pride and shame. As we accumulate trips around the Sun, our figures can grow and shrink with multiple pregnancies and births, repeatedly making space inside where there is none and pushing new souls out through an impossibly small escape hatch. We alone produce bodies, we produce the food that keeps tiny humans alive, and a few days after losing an amount of blood and guts that would make any man blanche, we are up and about, taking care of business as if nothing happened.

The experiences and challenges we routinely face do not occur in accordance with clock time, so women are forced to ignore their natural rhythms in order to adhere to the world’s concept of Performance: we play that game or present that research even though we are bleeding from between the legs, we attend classes and events when our guts are being twisted up inside, and we clock in at work though we are nursing offspring who do not allow for more than 45 consecutive minutes of sleep. Babies should be conceived within a specific age-range and should be delivered by certain deadline dictated by a paper wheel invented by a doctor dude.

The nature of Feminine time is Cyclic, as the seasons — we do not have the luxury of disregarding our natural changes. Our lives are marked by periods of activity in the external arenas of school, work or social interaction, and also by periods of forced confinement to the inner arenas by the physical and mental restraints of bleeding, maternity, caregiving and child-rearing.

Linear time values efficiency, precision and reliability — it demands most conform and obey and challenges some to conquer, dominate, crush and kill. This world-view extends to our relationship with each other and the Earth, and it has allowed for mankind to pillage, plunder and violate all the other living creatures on this planet, to repeatedly appropriate what isn’t his then keep it away from his fellows. This ego-centric behavior propagates greed, hatred and anger and feeds the cycle of atrocities humans are able to commit against each other and the Mother Earth.

How Do You Measure a Life?

History books are filled with the stories of great and powerful men —countless biographies detail their struggles and successes, the ages of their accomplishments, what they incited or discovered or invented, how many wives and children they kept, how many land and titles or degrees they held, who they influenced and how. Timelines of great lives are the rulers we use to measure our own accomplishments and the breadth of human potential. We use these examples as inspiration and proof of what is possible.

The obvious problem here is that women’s lives and accomplishments have been glaringly absent from written history since its inception. In the multitude of significant persons one can read about, only a fraction of a percentage are woman. There is absolutely no historical precedent to serve as encouragement or guidance or reassurance, and little for either sex to look upon to understand the nitty-gritty of the female experience in all its phases.

When women use the ruler to measure our circular circumstances, we are bound to come up short every time. Female lives are defined by curveballs that demand a constantly changing batting stance, only the luckiest among us get perhaps a handful of years with the indulgence of worrying only about herself. The shapes of our lives hinge on the lives of others: pregnancies, childbirth, injury or illness of ourselves or the ones we care for will easily derail a life-plan, but to show how these forces affect or shift our priorities is to be labelled as weak or ineffectual.

Modern women strive to accomplish something in the public arena, as we are no longer restricted to home life by law. When a woman produces offspring, a natural and drastic change occurs in her body and life circumstances — yet, women are working right up to delivery and then required to return to work nearly immediately as if nothing has changed. We are good workers but cannot possibly perform as we did before, now we have other pressing tasks that require our mind and bodies. Thankless but vital and inescapable tasks. 

And so, we fall “behind” on the Timeline — we don’t accrue as much money or as many titles or accolades by the right age and are judged against a standard that is incompatible with the realities of our lives. We are the ultimate Producers, yet our product has no collective value. As we age, the unforgiving lines of the clock doom us to feelings of inadequacy and underachievement.

A shift of mindset is necessary. The truth is that EVERY woman alive today is a pioneer. We have a level of agency, choices and freedoms that our grandmothers could not have imagined — in most parts of the world, we can actually wear pants now.

Since our foremothers were not allowed to do, decide, or own anything at allevery and anything we do now is being done for the first time. There are no standards to measure agains — zero comps — so we have little use for a ruler. Besides, we’ve never really cared how big it is. What intrepid explorers need instead is a tool for navigation, namely a Compass.

To the unindoctrinated, a Compass held in the hand seems random and useless as it spins around without apparent logic. But to one who has learned its simple ways, it is the truest guide and a far more effective tool for knowing where you are and where to go.

Time to Get Your Bearings

A Compass lives inside every woman, and with each reproductive cycle the dial spins around in a pattern that indicates her internal direction. She may feel the spinning, but it seems random and useless since she is not aware of the messages being conveyed by her body, messages that are of vital importance to Womankind. Once a person is made to understand how to read her Compass, she can actually make sense of the internal shifts and pulls and use the information as a guide.

Clock time can be useful, even pleasing, but the complete dominance of a linear-time mindset has driven humanity to a crisis point of dissatisfaction. The remedy lies in integrating the Cyclic mindset into the human experience to gain balance. We must be allowed to honor a different concept of Time, but first we must truly understand what our inner navigation centers are indicating every day.

And how is this to be achieved? We begin at the beginning, by thorough examination and investigation into the relentless cycle that won’t quit. 

Yes, I am talking about your period, or rather periods, because The Whole Cycle you regularly live through is made up of many periods. The Whole Cycle — Ovulation, Menstruation and every day between — is the source of all our Power. Its purpose isn’t the blood, it is the Creation — the blood is simply the receipt that proves the transaction. The Whole Cycle is the root of all human existence, and yet so little is understood about what is going on every day, especially by those who actually experience it.

Womenkind badly need empowerment and control — the keys lie in true understanding of our bodies at this most basic level, for with understanding comes agency. Examination of The Whole Cycle reveals that there is a finite, seven day period of fertility per every period of menstruation, and the fertile period is the only time when pregnancy can occur. 

Through unobtrusive and inexpensive means, any woman can learn to identify her own fertile period, detect ovulation, and predict future periods of menstruation and fertility with great accuracy. If you have been conditioned to think the above statements are impossible, you have been grossly misled. When the majority of Ovulators become aware of their periods of fertility, women will gain true ownership of our lives.

Beat the Clock

Our current crisis has managed to dramatically slow the driving force of clock time — for the first time in a while, all plans are entirely dependent on the weather. And though it is disorienting, society seems to be enjoying the release from the grind. Of the many things we miss about the old ways, I doubt among them are waking to that 6 a.m. alarm or running for the bus. This pause has allowed for people to be still, spend time with their own and reassess their priorities, and for many that has been a blessed opportunity.

Since we’ve been given a break that surely can’t last, let us use this pause to look closely inside and discover how we change on every day of The Whole Cycle. Take the three-cycle challenge with the objective of identifying Ovulation day and you will discover the answers waiting within you. The Whole Cycle is the ultimate embodiment of Feminine time, and understanding is the first step in honoring and integrating its characteristics into our worldview. 

Just as the circle and line in balance create most effectively, so the ideas of Linear and Cyclic time must be balanced to achieve our highest human potential. 

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