Deep Time: Reconnecting with
Past and Future Generations

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A healthier relationship to time


People of today relate to time in a way that is surely unique in our history. The technologies and economic forces unleashed by the Industrial Growth Society radically alter our experience of time. The economy and its technologies depend on decisions made at lightning speed for short-term goals, cutting us off from nature's rhythms and from the past and the future, as well. Marooned in the present, we are progressively blinded to the sheer ongoingness of time. Both the company of our ancestors and the claims of our descendants become less and less real to us.

Even as we see its consequences, we must remember that this relation to time is not innate in us. Throughout history, men and women have labored at great personal cost to bequeath to future generations monuments of art and learning, to endure far beyond their individual lives. And they have honored through ritual and story those who came before.

To make the transition to a life-sustaining society, we must retrieve that ancestral capacity––in other words, act like ancestors. We need to attune to longer, ecological rhythms and nourish a strong, felt connection with past and future generations. For us as agents of change, this isn't easy; because to intervene in the political and legislative decisions of the Industrial Growth Society, we fall by necessity into its tempo. We race to find and pull the levers before it is too late to save this forest, or stop that weapons program. Nonetheless, we can learn again to drink at deeper wells.

"Deep Time" work refreshes our spirits and informs our minds by experiencing our present lives within larger, temporal contexts. This work has brought tremendous rewards in both immediate gladness and lasting resilience.
In this lesson you will find exercises focusing on our human ancestors and descendants. In the next lesson some of the  Deep Time exercises extend our mental reach beyond human history.