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The Care Of Time

By Allan Eastman

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Internal Time

mature business man lying on grass and relaxing in park

We experience internal time down in the level of our unconcious mind, especially in the dream state.

©iStockphoto.com/Martin Novak

Internal or Subjective Time refers to how Time is perceived or experienced within our personal selves – in our minds and in our psyches. Unlike the rigid definitions of External Time, Subjective Time seems to be infinitely more elastic and flexible. It is all related to how our brains and mental processes function.

We all know the common examples of this – how activities we enjoy doing seem to pass at an alarmingly swift pace whereas sitting with an ancient magazine in the Doctor’s waiting room can seem to last forever. Anyone who has had the (un) fortunate experience of finding themselves about to have a potentially dangerous accident can attest to the astonishing slowing down of Time as we perceive it – each objective second seeming to last for minutes as we seek ways to escape from our dilemma.

Even more fascinating is the total escape from Time that we experience down in the level of our unconscious mind and especially in the dream state or in fantasies. Time becomes extravagantly elastic, seems to vanish completely in many cases or may exist in a state of universal simultaneity. We, as adults in our dreams, wander in the landscapes of our childhoods and have deep relationships with those we consciously know to be dead or with people we don’t know but admire. As logical as Objective Time is, the un-logic of the Subjective Time of dreams allows us to move about effortlessly through Time, combining the past, present and future into one mental mosaic of alternate reality.

Our sense of inner Time is closely allied to our development as individuals. We learn to place our own unique selves within a time structure that includes a past from which we draw memory, a present that we experience and a future that we are moving toward. To arrive at any level of personal maturity in this state requires Time and experience and fits into the apparently unique human ability to use memory to draw conclusions in the present by speculating about the future.

And one of the key elements of this understanding is the recognition of the ephemeral nature of our own existences. We all get a certain portion of Objective and therefore Subjective Time to be alive. Recognizing our own mortality is perhaps the most important lesson we learn in our interaction with Time.

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At a younger age, one’s idea of the future and the passage of Time is less developed. It is for this reason that historically, Generals have always preferred having their youngest soldiers on the front lines of combat. These young people, empowered by the energy and passion of youth, tend to feel immortal and have little conception of their own inevitable extinction so they willingly advance into more dangerous situations than an older individual, who is more likely to be aware of the possibility of encountering his own personal demise.

Our Subjective Time is often affected by the demands of Objective Time or by our own emotions. We often feel we don’t have enough Time to do everything we have to do in our busy modern lives. Equally, if we are feeling good about things in general, it is easy to relax and just sit around killing Time, taking some Time off, or letting Time flow by doing things we enjoy or that are important to us.

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