Friday, April 29, 2005

Day Two

I had a time related story to share with you a few months ago, but am a bit embarrassed to say that my life got busy and time got away from me. Great chunks of hours disappeared in what seemed to be minutes, and before I knew it, weeks had gone by. Now, this is in spite of the fact that I was practicing at paying attention and was trying to stay focused on life in a moment by moment basis.

That which is noticeable about time is interpretive. Or perhaps perceptual. If time exists in space, how we move through it is based on our awareness of it. But lack of awareness does not stop time. On the contrary, an inverse relationship seems to exist and the more focused we are on it the more aware we are of its' passage and the more we are able to participate in it. The more we are able to participate in it, the fuller it becomes. The fuller it becomes, the more manageable it seems. Time moves at a speed based on our attention to the individual components that make up each second.

Or, more simply, time moves equally whether we are distracted by what we are doing or whether we are sitting quietly and listening to our heart beat. So it is not the passage which we affect, but it is our perception or interpretation of the passage.

And I am right back where I started a half an hour ago.

I had a time story to share with you, and wanted to see if I can somehow capture some of the emotional quality of it.

Cleo and friend

Last October I went home. Not really home, because the building I called home at age 10 is no longer there. But I went back to my hometown, which I had left nearly twenty five years ago.

I grew up in the midwest, Illinois, about 100 miles south of Chicago. I went back to visit my step-mother and the change of pace was evident immediately. But one afternoon was particularly delightful, and I felt so happy that I was able to notice it as it happened and participate fully. I will probably carry the memory of it with me for many years.

It is the little things, and this was the tiniest of things. I been doing some work at her house and had stopped to run an errand. When I got back, I found my stepmother sitting in her living room with a male friend. It turned out that they had known each other since I was in high school, and that he regularly had stopped by to visit with her and my father, before his passing.

Normally I might have gone off to finish my work, but I sat. And became aware at that instant that the timbre of time had changed. Instead of racing past me blindly, I could almost see it move in small increments moment to moment.

The story is very cliche, and I apologize for that, but it is also true. We sat for nearly an hour and chatted and I listened to stories about their youth and where they used to work and how they had known each other.

And then the doorbell rang, and her son joined us. And we sat and talked and laughed and listened until dusk.

There was something perfect in those moments. Like being handed a bottle of mountain stream water after walking along a hot and humid road. And time was respectful of what we were doing and, although it did not stand still, it most certainly did move slowly for us. Or, at least we perceived that it did.

Copyright©2005 J.D. Warrick

Saturday, January 08, 2005


When a baby is first born it can hardly see past the end of it's tiny nose. But after a few days he can start to make out the face of the person holding him, and after a few weeks he can start to make out the wall on the opposite side of the room. So too is our awakening.

I am coming to this party late. Folks have been talking about this for centuries. But I am just happy to have made it to the party, even if the road was not always straight and the direction was not always clear. And I am happy to have the chance to talk to and with all of you about slowing down.

Time sickness is epidemic now. We all suffer from it, whether we know it or not. I think that the older we get the more we feel the rapidity of time, but even small children have commented to me that the days are going by fast! Do you remember being a toddler or even a little older? Do you ever remember thinking the days were going by quickly? I know that I did not. I remember thinking I would never grow up and that I would always be a kid. I remember thinking, right after the New Year, that I would never see the Christmas Tree again because that holiday was just so far off. I remember when the space between my birthdays seemed to be this enormous chasm that could never be crossed. That I would be stuck being whatever age I was forever, because a year was just such a long period of time that it was hard to get my mind around it.

Not now. We are still boxing up the last of the holiday decorations and it already seems like Christmas will be back before the boxes have time to collect any dust. I just celebrated a birthday, and know full well that before I settle in to the realization that I am as old as I am, it will be time for another. And can anyone tell me why I still want to write "1999" as the date? There are teenagers who will be graduating from high school who were only in elementary school in 1999!! The thought of writing "2005" seems foreign to me! And I suspect there are many people who are having very similar feelings.

So the question for me became "Why is time going so fast, and what can I do about that?". I first considered this almost ten years ago, but without a vocabulary or any sort of background on the phenomenon of "time sickness", I had no idea that it was anything other than perceptual. "Why is time going so much faster now?" The question seems to offer two possible answers. One is external and one is internal. One has to do with physics and one has to do with the psychology of the human mind. Either 24 hours is not the same physical amount of time that it was when, say, I was eight -- or my perception of what 24 hours is has changed.

Our Assignment
So our "homework" for next time is to give this idea some thought. Consider what got done in a single day during a time when you were seven or eight. And consider what gets done in a day now that you are whatever age you are at now. Reflect on the question of whether a 24 hour period is actually the same length of time as it was when you were seven or eight. Physical time, not perception of time. If you want to break it down even more (and we'll probably talk some about why that might not be the best idea in a future post) .. does 60 seconds total the equivalent amount of time use today as it did in, say, 1965?

Copyright©2005 J.D. Warrick