Thoughts on time and how to befriend it...

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say

So writes Roger Waters in 'Time,' from Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' (despite being a man with occasionally too much to say...).

I find this verse particularly terrifying.

I remember an episode of Jonathan Creek entitled 'Time Waits for Norman,' in which the same man (Norman) is spotted in both London and New York, minutes apart.

In the reveal, Jonathan figures out that Norman suffers from chronophobia—an irrational fear of the passing of time. Norman is also one of a pair of identical twins. The twins have essentially decided to be the same person, leading two halves of the same life, so they can buy each other more spare time.

The issue is that I don't think chronophobia is irrational at all. In fact, I'm amazed that we aren't all acute sufferers.

I feel like I'm becoming more and more aware of time racing by.

I'm amazed at the speed of a week. Years feel like months. The fact that I'm now 33 punches me in the stomach, like a speeding fine or an unpaid bill, every time I forget not to remember it.

This phenomenon is partially a result of age and experience. Our earlier years are packed full of novelty, and our brains store more disparate foundational memories, making time literally feel broader and fuller.

Once we fall into the predictable routines of adulthood, our experiences merge into a sort of grey blob of forgettable nothingness, punctuated by the occasional bit of something interesting.

Time, when you stop and think about it (a choice that I'm already regretting as I write this), is an unfathomably complex thing.

It's both an artificial concept and a dimensional aspect of the universe we live in.

I recently heard American physicist and Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek say, "Everything is a clock—some clocks are just easier to read than others."

This statement is a profoundly beautiful way of pointing out that we can only truly know time indirectly, by watching it work on the world around us: the moving sun in the sky, the deepening lines on our forehead, the rust on our bikes, the changing voices of our children.

I've always had a fairly adversarial relationship with time, largely inspired by my dad.

He's the kind of man who arrives and leaves everywhere early due to a crippling fear of being stuck in traffic or, worse, not finding the best possible parking space.

Family visits to European cultural capitals are generally exercises in how many sights one can "do" in a day. Eiffel Tower: ten minutes, seen it, move on. The Louvre: Mona Lisa, Van Gogh, let's go.

My forays into Buddhist meditational practice have taught me that sitting in a traffic jam and gazing at Starry Night should be of no essential difference—you're no more than a witness to the contents of consciousness in either situation.

But some genetic chains can be hard to break.

As a result, I always arrive earlier than I should for almost everything, accomplishing nothing except giving me plenty of opportunity to brood over the fact that other people are always late.

It almost seems like a waste of time, when I stop and think about it...

All of this isn't to say much, really.

I suppose the only clichéd conclusion one might draw from reflecting on time is that life's "brief candle" is precious, and rather than treating time as my enemy, I should probably be grateful to have been given any in the first place.

Oliver Burkeman's book '4000 Weeks' lays out in stark terms the argument that, given our average lifespans of 4000 weeks (hence the title), we simply can't do everything we'd like.

We're far better off focusing on the things and the people that we love.

As someone approximately 1592 weeks in (and, therefore, with approximately 2408 left to go), I think I should probably take the time to remind myself of that a little more often.

Keep dreaming,


Rob Jones & The Restless Dream

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