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all the time in the world

The Varieties Of Temporal Experience

By Allan Eastman

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Take The Time

Couple taking a rest and day dreaming on a rock while watching an enormous glacial tongue.

It's Time to try to rediscover the Wonder we had as children and look beyond our ordinary lives to see what an extraordinary World we live in.

©iStockphoto.com/Gergo Orban

So, what do we learn about Time through our Subjective experience of it?

I’ve said before here on these pages that the opportunity to study and think about Time that timeanddate.com has given me in writing these pieces only leads me deeper into what a mystery Time really is. Like Life itself, the more you try to comprehend it, the more elusive understanding seems to become. But in some ways, that only makes sense because we human beings are imperfect and mortal creatures. We do our best to try to find understanding of the World and the Universe around us but our own limitations stop us from being definitive, really about anything. Our comprehension of Life shifts according to new ideas and discoveries or even because of our cultural or individual biases.

To me, it has become easy to accept that Time may not exist except as a collection of Nows in the Universe and that the sense of Time passing in a durational way that we seem to experience is just an invention of our brains and of our cultures. Events like my Jamaican tumble make me wonder how Time can be anything if such experiences can occur in anyone’s life.

But the problem of course, is that because we have convinced ourselves that we do live in moving durational linear Time and because the World is geared to go along with that notion, then we simply have to deal with it. If nothing else, the terminal duration of our own existences requires us to believe that Time is a reality.

In a world where people increasingly complain about how quickly Time passes and how short Life seems to be – our allotted three score and ten or whatever – maybe there is a clue to dealing with it better in the Time Dilation experiences that so many of us have. Is it possible to access that mental state to slow down Time and at least, give us the impression that our own personal Time is passing more slowly?

The clue lies, I believe, in the timeless Wonder we experience as children. This is a world of new experience where everything we encounter displays an almost magical fascination to us so every new impression is flooded with excitement and discovery. As adults, we are too often enveloped in the anesthetic of the familiar, endlessly going over the same ground and doing the same things over and over again.


So maybe one way to handle Time is to try to rediscover the Wonder we had as children – to try new things, to challenge ourselves with new information and new impressions, to seek out new experience, new people and new surroundings. We need to look beyond our day to day familiar existences and rediscover what an extraordinary World we really live in.

Start with simple things. Go for a walk and really look at the structure of plants and flowers. Really feel the water flowing on your skin when you go swimming. Find a place to look at the stars. Taste what you’re eating. Feel everything that you’re experiencing when you make love. Take the Time to truly experience Life again.

OK, it’s not going to change the inevitable but for sure, it’s going to make it feel like Life is lasting a lot longer. And that's a very worthwhile thing after all.