Time is a funny thing. There is a level train crossing not far from my house and if I don’t time it right, I can get caught sitting and waiting for the train to pass…which…seems…to…take…forever. Minutes feel like hours while I’m waiting for container car after container car it to slowly chug its way across the road.
Compare that to the feeling when we are rushed to get something done and time seems like its flying by. Or when we just don’t want something to end like a saying goodbye to a loved one or enjoying the company of friends.
There is always a disconnection between the clock on the wall and the clock in our heads.
One seems like it runs at a different speed than the other. When we want it to go fast it feels slow like that chugging train, and when we want it to slow down it speeds by like a rapid bullet.
Why does time feel like it is never consistent?
Claudia Hammond, author of Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception suggests that when we do things for the first time, it’s a novel experience for our brains. As we age we have fewer novel experiences so time seems to go faster. That’s why summers were endless when we were kids and now they are gone before we know it.
The interesting thing is that time, or at least the measurement of time, is something we humans made up so we could order our lives. We divided day and night into portions so we could regulate our activities.
Well not all humans.
There is an Amazon tribe called the Amondawa who do not have a word for time or tomorrow or yesterday. Not surprising they don’t use any form of clocks or calendars.
Like most things, we want to control the passage of time on our terms. We don’t want to conform according to the ticking of minutes and hours and days on the clocks we invented. We want time to go fast when we want to get on to something else and we want time to be luxuriously slow when we want to savour the moment.
Time of course is relative.
Its passage depends entirely on the observer. That’s what Einstein taught us.
One way you can take yourself out of time is by being mindful. A few minutes of conscious breathing can change your perception of time. The train at the crossing is still moving at the same speed, but you can experience it differently. Another thing you can do is to create more novel experiences. Give your brain something new to pay attention to.A few minutes of conscious breathing can change your perception of time. Click To Tweet
Einstein also said the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.
Especially in those busy times when it does feel like everything is converging, take a breath.
Take another breath.
Come back to what we call the present moment, even though it doesn’t really exist in the flow of time. But that’s a conversation for another time.
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