Publicador de contenidos

Back to 18_4_13_EDU_kairos_OPI

Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

How many Kairos (favorable opportunities) do we miss in life?

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 10:06:00 +0000 Posted in The confindecial

The lyric and satirical poet in Latin language Quintus Horace Flaccus (65 B.C.) dealt extensively with topic the brevity of life and the uncertainty of future time. In his Ode "Carpe Diem, quam mínimum crédula postero" he invites to take advantage of the present moment to enjoy without limit the sensible pleasures.

This hedonistic approach will be denounced by St. Paul: "If it is true that the dead are not raised, we had better do as some say: let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die". (Corinthians, 15-32)

In the movie "The Dead Poets Club" (1989), starring Robin Williams in the role of a nonconformist and free-thinking professor, some verses by Robert Herrick, a 17th century English poet, are recited:

 "Catch the roses while you can;/speedy time flies,/the very flower you admire today,/tomorrow will be dead."

The topic of Carpe Diem linked to the brevity of the rose has long figured in the poetry of various countries, thus demonstrating its universality and permanence. For example, in some verses of the Spanish Golden Age poet Agustín Moreto, it is proposed to resort to pleasurable enjoyment as an escape from the anguish of an ephemeral life:

 "Your flower is passing, rose,/and the promised fruit/your beauty denies/the mother-of-pearl already withered./Got it before you lose/your verdure the verve,/when plants bloom/it is natural vice."

It is very significant that many teenagers and young people nowadays get tattoos on their bodies with the registration "Carpe Diem"; or that it is used as a hook in the advertising of certain places and products. This message does not encourage young people to study, to train and to set goals in life; it only encourages them to live in the short term deadline, having fun "to the fullest".

For R. Yepes and J. Aranguren "Carpe Diem!" is not applicable to professional life, where the logic of seriousness and long-term tasks prevails deadline. It is, therefore, an incomplete approach to life, since it does not take into account human effort, pain, limitation and illness, in the face of which it is threatened with fatalism. The hedonist, the man centered on the attainment of pleasure, lacks answers to effort and pain. It is the logic of the immature and the irresponsible". 

The hedonistic proposal "seize the moment" has had a second, more positive interpretation throughout history: "seize the time, don't waste it". Today it is almost forgotten, so it is urgent to recover it.

The Greeks had two words to explain time: Chronos and Kairos. The first refers to chronological or sequential time; the second to the moment or instant where special things happen.

For Rafael Domingo, "Kairos is the occasion, the favorable opportunity that changes man's destiny. It is that time in which all circumstances converge to obtain maximum performance. It is the point of inflection, of rupture, of conversion. It is the meeting between providence, the cosmos, the person and history. It is the divine arrow that crosses time to wound with love the heart of the human being." 

Without this convergence or meeting of circumstances, Saul would probably not have "fallen off the horse" and Columbus would not have discovered America.

Ken Robinson, a specialist in creativity, uses the term "The Element" to designate the place and time where the things we like to do converge with the things we are particularly good at. It is not equivalent to Kairos, but it has some similarities. When we are passionate about what we do, we are in our Element, a state in which we discover capacities of imagination and intuition that we often use very little and that at that moment allow us to work with great creativity.

Kairos is the instant in which, at last, inspiration arrives, after a patient and active waiting. "When inspiration comes, may it find me working" (Pablo Picasso). 

Being in Kairos is not about chance and luck, but about inner vibration. To have more Kairos moments, we need more silence, self-awareness and self-listening.

I have the impression that today we are too much focused on Chronos and not enough on Kairos. How many Kairos (propitious opportunities) have we wasted in life because of an avoidable spiritual deafness?