I have been speaking with quite a few people over the past few weeks who have mentioned that our sense of time seems really weird right now. How often during this pandemic have you found yourself losing track of what day or month it is? Even the time of day seems to drag or slip. I can tell you that more than once I have put down the wrong month and been floored by the fact that it is June. Where did April and May go?
For some, this is because their normal routine is gone because they have lost their jobs or are working from home. For others who have worked right through there is still a weirdness in time that can’t be explained away by the loss of routine.
The pandemic has certainly messed with the structure of peoples lives and what we expected. I live in cottage country and it was surreal to have the first long weekend of cottage season be so quiet. Usually, there are boats on the lake and loud music on a Friday and Saturday night. Other than a few rebellious teens jumping into the lake from the bridge and sneaking in precious time close to their friends, the lake was uncharacteristically quiet.
This messes with our sense of time.
For those who drive into work still and notice the traffic is much reduced, have a sense of weirdness because they don’t have the same amount of time to prepare or decompress from work as they had before sitting in traffic.
The weather is not helping either. This late spring/early summer has shifted from swelteringly hot to freezing. I know that just a few hours north of us here there was snow on Wednesday night. This is also taking us off-kilter.
Relativity of time – Albert Einstein
When I was considering time as my Focus of the Week. I first thought of my favourite scientist, Albert Einstein and his theory of Relativity and specifically the Relativity of Time. I am sure you weren’t expecting a science lesson so I will keep it to a really light version. This has a bearing here because most of us believe that time is a constant and can’t be changed. That is not actually true. The only constant is the measure of the speed of light (even then it can be distorted by major things like black holes).
Time can actually be shifted by how fast we are moving. So, if you had two clocks that were totally in sync with each other and then have them travel at different speeds to a new location, then when they were stationary together again, they would be out of sync. Time can be manipulated, even though it is used and seen as being constant.
Time has also been the main focus of so many movies and TV shows. I am sure you can name at least 5 that deal with time travel, manipulating time and eddies in the space-time continuum.
We are fascinated with time because we have always felt so bound by time. When to get up, when to go to school or work. When to go to bed. The biggest rebellion or privilege as a youngster was to stay up or sleep in.
We feel like we are a slave of time, but we wish to take control of time. Therefore, we make so many movies and TV shows about it.
In some areas of thinking and believing, time is something that can be manipulated by our individual thinking. So, you can speed up or slow down time just by the way you think about it. One example would be getting to a meeting on time. If you think that there is more than enough time to get to my meeting on time, then the universe will ensure that happens for you regardless of the things that may delay you. So even though you have every red light and parking is difficult, as long as you focus on the fact that you will be there on time you will be. When you arrive, you realize everyone is late and you actually arrived 10 minutes before everyone else and are therefore actually early. (it is a thing, check it out).
Then, of course, there is the element of perception about time. Have you ever been out with friends and had such a great experience that time slips away so much faster than you expected? Or that amazing date, where you look at your watch or cell phone and 4 hours has gone by and you thought you had only been there an hour? It can also be the opposite where you find yourself having to do something or be in a place you dread, and it feels like hours have gone by yet it is only been 5 minutes. Our perception of time moves fast when having fun and so slow when we are not.
There is also the perception that you are booked solid and can’t possibly fit anything else in. Then an emergency hits and suddenly your calendar becomes wide open.
We can create that idea of time deprivation and of time credit with the way we think about it. This is slightly different than the metaphysical way of focusing on it in the sense that we decide what our priorities are and how we want to allocate the time that we have. Priorities can shift by how much importance we give to things.
I have been swamped for weeks and been running the hamster wheel for my business and a few other contracts I have picked up just prior to this pandemic.
We had a thunderstorm that just whipped out of nowhere, so we scrambled to batten down the hatches, turn off all the computers and our entertainment system. Because of the severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings, I decided to hang out downstairs and even put down my phone.
I find after a long day with multiple responsibilities that involve me to wear many hats, that all I want to do is sit and veg in front of the TV. That night it wasn’t an option. I decided to sit and read a book. Then after a couple of chapters, I dove into some other projects I had wanted to do but felt like I had no time. By the time I was ready to go to bed suddenly there were a bunch of things completed that I had previously told myself I had too little time for. In reality, I actually had the time but needed to shift my focus. Yes, I got to relax after a busy day and recharge enough to do other things I love. I went to bed more satisfied than I would have if I have watched several episodes of something on TV.
What we can do
- Try an experiment. Turn off all the computers and TV’s and put down your phones for 2 hours at least once or twice per week. What happens? What do you notice?
- Make a list of things that you want to do
- This helps you to relax when it comes to time and ultimately can support you in creating more time because you are less anxious about it
I would love to hear your comments and experiences with time and how the past few months have affected you. Feel free to make comments or contact me firstname.lastname@example.org .