Stretching time

I finished The Time Traveler’s Wife a few weeks back. It has been tugging at the corner of my mind since then, not quite done with.

I have been interested in time for a while now.

In how it stretches and tightens and is far less static than I used to assume. How the direction is not a given although the passing of it is.

I guess this is where it intersects with age.

I have been thinking about age too.

A few weeks ago, I was in a restaurant. Halfway through the evening, the room gradually quietened as one party started singing Happy Birthday. The rest of the diners quickly joined in, which was kinda sweet and not unusual, but what caught my attention was the oohs and aaaahs that followed the announcement of the Birthday Girl’s age. 84.

It is funny that something we (I) celebrate decreasingly eventually flips. We spend years wanting things to speed up, then regret the time passing, and then finally stand back again.

Perception is a wonderful thing.

We have no control over the ticking of the minutes or the passing of the years, but we can change how we experience them.

We can change how we experience them.

We were talking about time in the office last week. About how it flies when we are doing the same thing and about how it slows right back down when we’re packing in lots of new experiences. How years that are marked with job changes or house moves or new adventures seem far fuller and lengthier than those where we have been stuck in a groundhog day routine of getting up and going to work and coming home and doing the same thing all over again.

There is, apparently, some science behind this. When we do things for a first time, “we tend to make more detailed and lasting memories”; further down the line, the event becomes a little meh.

I love this.

I had noticed that my 101 challenges thing stretched out the summer and that last year, when a lot went on for me, felt far far longer than the proceeding ones – but I hadn’t realised the reason, nor recognised that it was replicable.

It is incredibly exciting to think that packing in new things – or doing old things in new ways – could make it feel less like time is running away.

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5 responses to “Stretching time

  1. The trick, of course, I am finding, lies in what i fill the full days up with. And how much room we give ourselves permission to create on the fly to explore and improvise. I am finding that I like busy and full so long as it is as organic and fluid as possible. I find I like the surprises inordinately.

    And I’m reminded of that Zen concept, that “every moment of life, every breath, is practice of the Dharma”. Whether I’m a believer or follower or not, that concept seems to have profound merit. It seems to have something to do with simply being awake, really and willfully awake, as much as possible. Sometimes that hurts, that paying attention and not hiding in the denial that seems to be what we’re groomed for in western civilization, but at other times it’s profoundly rapturous.

    The rapture is worth the pain, in spades, always.

    Loved this, Issa. Loved. It was just what I needed to think about. Thanks…

    • Glad it struck a chord 😉 – and yes, it’s strange to find the balance between being open to new things and also making sure that you’re using the time well. And that the trying new things doesn’t end up clouding over what is being sought, if that makes sense. I like the Zen concept too – thanks for sharing that.

  2. I remain amazed that merely by going out on Friday and Sunday night the weekend can be made to seem twice as long; that the summer of 2004 remains fixed in my memory as endless because it included a sunny holiday in May and another late in August; and that every day – every. single. day – I remember the otherwise unremarkable afternoon when I was 12 years old and looked out of the school window to think “before I know it, it’s going to be tomorrow”.

    Time is fleeting, and precious, and as someone memorably said the gift is an illusion.

  3. I hope I remember this post. The frustrating thing about life is that we notice something and then forget about it in the next breath. Or I do anyway. Here’s to long weekends and multiple vacations 😉

  4. I was reading some very interesting philosophy about time the other day (it was in 11th book of St Augustine’s Confessions – a book I cannot recommend enough, although it’s not eactly a light read.) And I’m a massive Doctor Who fan. I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately, about how I use it, about what exactly it is. This post is beautiful and I hope it will help me to use time better.

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