“Your Greatest resource is your time,” said the fortune cookie I just opened. Just in time, I thought, as DST has ended and I have a whole extra hour of it to choose how to spend.

The human notion of time, and our futile attempts to control it, is a concept that could easily become my doctorate thesis in anthropology (if and when I attempt to become an anthropologist). I can’t be the first one to think of this for a thesis anyway. Filmmakers have had a field day/year/lifetime with narrative techniques to jump in time, stretch it, bend it, split it, reverse it, and make the viewers revisit scenes in hindsight while rearranging a story told out of chronological order.

Particularly fascinating creatures are New Yorkers, with their power naps and New-York-Minutes and eye rolling every time their lattes take longer than 30 seconds to get ready. New Yorkers complain that they don’t have enough time to show how busy (and supposedly important) they are, and then take anti-depressants if they find themselves alone with their thoughts in silence with too much time in their hands. And then you have the ones who incessantly brag about how much they did with their time, which is just another way to avoid feeling guilty for doing absolutely nothing sometimes.

Before I bore you reader with my own musings, here is a better post you can read, by Tim Urban, TED Speaker and blogger-who-writes-way-better-than-me:

Your Life in Weeks

If you are still reading, you must have plenty of time… fair warning: it’s about to get whimsical. Beyond the economic (supposed) reasons for DST, the interesting phenomenon is watching people assign meaning to DST, and how they develop a love/hate relationship with the rituals of re-setting their clocks twice a year. Humans are creatures of habit, they tend to inevitably fall into patterns of sleeping and waking at the same time every day, eating at the same time every day and so forth. For this reason, I am guilty as charged of being thrown off and confused every Spring when DST begins, and delighted when it ends, and yelling at the microwave (as if it would hear me and fix itself) for not having the same time as my smartphone.

What is time to a grasshopper, though? Or to stardust? What does time mean if you are a bear who hibernates , or one of Jupiter’s moons? It means cycles, the beginnings and endings of a winter season or a rotation around a planet. The pretext we have as humans to live by our clocks, and why we feel entitled to complain about them so much, is that we all have to agree on timetables for work, for transportation and to be able to find one another on a given corner at xyz time. Yet the reason why it matters is that we all have plans and memories. Our plans, hopes and dreams live in this “future” thing, while our memories of boat rides with friends or snow falling on our noses in the moonlight of a certain date and year, or whatever other moments have been etched onto a certain point of our timeline, have a fixed time stamp that says “where” in the past they may be found. Our obsession with controlling time is the drawing of an emotional geo map more than a progression of light through time and space. The coordinates of “the cherry blossom in the market square” are not the latitudes and longitudes of the market square that still exists somewhere, but the date when you were there, when you wrote the memory.

The person who manages to really harness the power of now, to truly try to be in the moment, is usually happiest. The most interesting thing about experiencing time as not just any human, but a modern dweller in the high-tech age, living in a metropolis, is how long does one hour actually seem to stretch on for when you are doing something like waiting at the DMV. And the opposite scenario: how time literally flies when you are having fun. “Living in the now”, even if you master the practice, still doesn’t stop that one hour from stretching on for soooooooo many hours when you are waiting for something you really need. Being cognizant of our tendencies to be frustrated with the passage of time, even though it doesn’t tick any faster or slower when you are exhilarated or bored, frees us from the tyranny of time-related stress. Just being aware that I have an “extra hour” today and yet spend almost all of it writing this, which I wouldn’t have done if the clocks hadn’t changed, makes me laugh at myself, in a good way. I don’t claim to live on Aloha time, like the Hawaiians do, or anywhere near that pace, but I have been able to do nothing more often lately. And proudly so. It is our moral duty to help people realize this. Next time you talk to someone who complains or brags too much about how they spend their time, buy them tea and ask them to share a favorite memory.



Posted by Kaz, filed under

. Date: November 5, 2017, 8:33 pm | No Comments »