Posted By Guy Smith on February 18, 2014
Time is rigid, but perception of time is very elastic.
It is the oldest of observations, that how we perceive time determines how fast time appears to move. Even in the legendary novel Catch 22, Dunbar perceived that unpleasant conditions made time drag on, such as it does when your dentist is attempting to drill his way into a proctology career. Alternately, time dashes past and we often look in life’s rearview mirror and see nothing – time has vanished like ghosts at dawn.
How we choose to perceive time then can enhance our pleasure in it. The trick is doing it in real time. Gathering research for a book once led me to a Zen meditation center in San Francisco, where I experienced a disturbingly pleasant disruption of time through the simple act of paying attention to my breathing. The hour passed quickly and yet seemed to last for days, making time simultaneously elastic in multiple dimensions.
The trick is adjusting time in real-time. One can lose hours being annoyed and angry at irrelevant things: boredom, the jerk with the loud car stereo, unintentional slights by strangers, politicians. Catching those wasted moments as they occur and perverting them into time-slowing enjoyments reflects a great deal of both the Buddhist’s and the pot head’s disassociation from the real world. Alternately, some people are so thoroughly in the moment that every aspect of an instant creates time-shifting in their own minds.
The latter is easier to do and won’t get you thrown in jail on drug or religion charges.
Next time you stroll a sidewalk, observe everything as if everything was art. Bricks in the wall, the chipping of paint on a picket fence, how the sky’s blue is a different hue than yesterday, the ant crawling up a parking meter, or the gait of an old man walking the other way. An otherwise wasted minute will suddenly expand into a fulfilling perceived hour and leave you wondering what all you have missed thus far in life.
Making room for moments grows them.
Don’t worry. Time always wins in the end. So cheat the house and steal back all the moments you can.