Doesn't it feel surreal that 2022 is just a few weeks away? In case your brain is feeling a bit scattered about it too, I wanted to share some (random) thoughts about the tricks time plays on us and perhaps some helpful reflections and reminders we can take from it.
- Time is truly relative, isn't it? Or perhaps a better word would be subjective. Yes, each day has 24 hours, an hour 60 minutes, but the way we experience it can feel so different depending on what we do. Just thinking how fast 20 minutes of scrolling can fly by, yet a few minutes in plank stretch into infinity, or how long Monday to Friday can take yet that week of holidays can never be long enough.
- The way we experience time isn't linear. Our perception of time is dictated by milestones, markers, travels, seasons, events. As Covid-19 continued to inhibit our lives, how has this year felt for you? Fast or slow? Both?
- If you've been feeling that time is slipping through your hands, some of the best ways (I've found) to slow it down are to meditate, turn off the phone, do one thing at a time. In other words, being intentional with how you spend time and narrowing your focus.
- On the other hand, the biggest time sinks happen by jumping from task to task or multitasking, thinking and planning about what you need to do instead of doing it, or procrastinating by doing something else entirely (who else starts to tidy something around the house when instead you should write that email?).
- Have you ever thought about how each year becomes a smaller fraction of your life? That it's no wonder why in childhood a year or summer holidays felt like an eternity - it represented a 5th, or 8th or 10th of your life. Now that fraction is divided by 20s, 30s, 50s or 70s. It feels that time accelerates as we age, but we're also reminded of its finite nature and how increasingly precious each year becomes.
- The older you get, the less you feel like your age - anyone else resonate with this discrepancy? I remember having this conversation with my mum when she turned 60 and how that number sounded foreign to her own ears, how her perception of herself was lagging at around 45. Perhaps that gap is widened by our own (or society's) stories and expectations we have for different ages - what you should have or do when you're X years old, how you should feel and look. It's funny to remember how old and grown-up 30 sounded to me when I was 15, and I'm now realising we're all just winging it and making it up as we go; how we are more like children pretending to be adults, than the know-it-all-adults we imagined as kids. Ironic, how realising this is probably what makes us adults, doesn't it?
- Yet, the only constant is change and in these times defined by uncertainty, it's comforting to be certain of this. However stuck you may feel on some days or weeks, time will keep moving. The law of impermanence can be an incredibly powerful tool to have in your pocket - both to help you weather the difficult times giving you the trust and hope that this too shall pass, but also to remind you happy moments are just as fleeting. Let's make sure we stop to appreciate the little moments and not take our blessings for granted.
- If you're a fellow worrying soul that easily stresses over small things, add this rule of thumb to your pocket too - "If it won't matter in 5 years, don't spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it".Are there a few things that can drop from your shoulders if you were to practise this?
- "Majority of the negative emotions are anchored in the future or the past. Majority of the positive emotions are anchored in the present."- Mo Gawdatt.
What practices like meditation, yoga, mindfulness have in common and why they make us feel better, is how much they redirect our attention to the present moment. It's where we rest from the regrets of the past and the worries of the future. Pay attention to where your mind spends the most time in and when it gets caught up in negative emotions of time-travelling, keep coming back to the body and the breath - they're always in the present moment, that's why we focus on them.
I hope some of these thoughts resonated with you and your experience. Is there anything else you would add to this list, are there other tricks time plays on you and how you perceive it? Let me know, it's always a pleasure to hear your thoughts and turn this into a conversation.