An Experiment In Time

pexels TIME 111 SML wristwatch

Tick, tock! I’m sitting here wondering whether I should treat myself and go out for lunch! Tick, tock! I think I deserve it. I’ve been busy, extra busy over the last few days. Tick, tock! We live in a society where time is of the essence. Indeed, that phrase is the legal phrase in the UK that you need to utter (or write) when issuing a contract where different processes are important to getting the work done.

Time? We have the best of it, we use it, we mark it, we even kill it, but whatever we do with it, the clock inevitably ticks away, and time marches on. Tick, tock!

Here’s a quick question for you. Imagine you’re in a small village, deep in the heart of the English countryside in the autumn of 1752. It’s a glorious day. You’re relaxing. It’s Wednesday, 2 September. And, someone asks you, ‘What is tomorrow’s date’? What would you say? Why, you would probably say something like, ‘It will be Thursday, 3 September’. And, ordinarily, you would be correct. But, ‘No’, says the questioner, ‘You’re wrong. Tomorrow will be Thursday, 14 September!’. And, that’s a fact.

The UK calendar was adjusted to change from the Julian calendar (which was ‘slow’ and inaccurate) to the Gregorian calendar (altogether much more accurate) in September 1752, and people ‘lost’ eleven days. Some people were a tad upset by this, believing they had been robbed of eleven days of their life, some petitioned parliament under the banner of ‘Give us back our eleven days’, and some were so incensed they even rioted, violently,  on the streets!

Time? It seems is something we can even lose.

Do you have the sense that you rush around too much?  Especially over the Christmas period, any feeling on being so hectic that you didn’t have…..time….for yourself?

Feel controlled by the clock?

I had a dream about you. We were racing to be the slowest person on earth. You were winning which meant you were losing. You were gloating because you were a winner and I was taunting because you were a loser. Jarod Kintz

If, like most people, and if you’re anything like me, then you do rush around far too much. It’s easy to slip into that fast-paced action, unaware. We can almost be frantic in our adherence to time. Maybe we’re like the author Umberto Eco. He does everything at double speed in the hope that he can cram twice as much into his lifespan as other people.  Twice as much, twice as fast! The problem is, that in doing so, I think, he has become a human ‘doing’, rather than a human ‘being’, and is missing out.

The trouble started when, as a society, when we moved away from marking time in hours to minutes. Medieval clocks marked time in hours only. However, by the year 1700 most clocks had minute hands, and the marking of time began to move towards ‘the frantic’, and ever more precise, and some would saying annoying, marking of time. Can you feel the pressure building? But, it didn’t stop there. About a century later the second hand was introduced, and a century after that wristwatches were invented. Much more pressure now!

Bit by bit we have became ‘handcuffed’ to observing time in ‘extreme’ ways. And so, today, we can ‘live by the clock’, too, if we’re not careful, if we’re not aware! But it need not be this way. We don’t always need to rush around, bound by the time on the clock. Maybe, sometimes we do, but not always.

The remedy is to ‘slow’. Learning the art of ‘slowness’ or slowing is difficult but it can be done, and there are benefits, and that is the challenge proposed.

Everything we do is infused with the energy in which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we are peaceful, life will be peaceful.
Marianne Williamson

I’m not suggesting that you adopt a ‘timeless’ lifestyle completely, but in part, sometimes, occasionally, to do so. Why, you still need to observe the clock when going to work, meeting a loved one or friend, or cooking the meal for the family etc. It isn’t an all or nothing ‘challenge’, but a ‘bear it in mind and act on it occasionally’ challenge.

So, more about the challenge. Here it is. Your challenge is: Maybe once a month or two, spend a whole day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, without observing the clock, wristwatch etc. Infact, leave your wristwatch off, cover over the clocks, and estimate time, and when you should do something by how you feel and by observing the sun. If you watch tv or listen to the radio, you might inadvertently come across the time, but that’s okay. Just ignore it. It’s nothing to be afraid of!

I do believe you will benefit, but you may find it strange, even disconcerting at first. Eat when you want. Rest if you need. Meditate or pray when you feel like it, and for as long as you require it. Pick up a good book and/or go for a walk and appreciate nature, really appreciate nature  (even if you’re in the city), but do it because you want to. You can still do mundane things like cleaning or going shopping etc, but don’t be too upset if the shop is closed. Sadly, they, not you, may be observing time. Infact, it’s a forgone conclusion that they will be living by the clock.

You may feel ‘out of the loop’, but rest assured, you have entered the ‘loop of the natural’, and strange though it may feel, it is benefiting you. Why, you might even want to write about some of the benefits and your feelings in a journal at the end of the day – whenever you deem the end of that day to be! Even, as an exercise, of not living by the clock, it will be beneficial. It’s an exercise in, with, time. Nowness.

Nowness is the sense that we are attuned to what is happening. The past is fiction and the future is a dream, and we are just living on the edge…. Chögyam Trungpa

So, do try it. Choose a day, and go for it. Record the outcome, and let me know. Tick, tock! Right, that’s it. It’s time for lunch!

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