Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How Time Flies

   I recently read a blog by a new friend of mine that was all about time and his decision to no longer live tied down by worrying about its passage.  We spoke briefly about how he chooses not to know his age anymore, and I was intrigued.
    It is true that we, as human beings, have a tendency to put such importance on time.  Being on time, the passage of time, birthdays, new years, deadlines, being late, being early, what time is it, what time will it be, time time time.  Frankly, it's an obsession.  One of which some people, I'm learning, have chosen to rid themselves.

   I, myself, am incredibly guilty of putting deadlines on things, even soft ones. I always thought that if I put a deadline on something, I knew I was more likely to work toward it. Having my own home by 25. Starting a family by 26. Successful enough to retire by 35. These were all very arbitrary numbers, but I always felt that having them was a good way to make sure I stayed on track. I've bypassed all but one of the above with zero success on either front, and despite always telling myself they weren't set in stone and just guidelines, I find that I feel I have failed. Without realizing it, I set a much higher importance on these dates than I meant to, and now suffer the consequence of feeling as though I'll never reach those goals at all because I missed them the first time.

   There is a huge part of me that would love to take this existential leap into timelessness and try my hardest to live every day, every moment, as a single piece of life to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest.  Like a slice of cake that is savored, every bite, with no thoughts as to when the other slices will be consumed or how they will taste when it happens.  Giving up the idea of time, to me, is a slightly more extreme version of "living in the now".

   My friend says, in his blog, that by doing this he has seemingly slowed his life down by living each moment. With time as the governing factor in everything we do, our lives are akin to grabbing a handful of pages in a book and just running our thumbs across the side as they all flutter past until we reach the end.  We plan and live our lives as though the goal is to get to the last page as quickly as possible.  And in doing so, we skip the entire story that got us there.  We ignore everything that doesn't, in some way, get us to whatever we've decided to aim for.

  I don't know if it came from somewhere else, but the only place I've heard it is on The Browncoats album, Space Age Loser: "Only an unhappy man wears a watch."  The more I think about this line and the myriad meanings it could have, the more I can't help but think it's more accurate than we realize.  When all you're doing is trying to figure out what and when comes next, it must mean you're not enjoying what's happening now.

   It's such an easy thing to say, though.  "I will live in every moment!"  But the fact is that time is unavoidable.  Deadlines are inevitable. Unless you're living in the woods; Even then, you have to track the sun and the seasons to survive. But in our world, in society, we have to live at least some of our lives as slaves to time. I do it when I sign up to vend at a convention.  We do it when we make plans, choose classes, set dates.  When the rest of the world relies on a set standard of time, it's impossible to ignore it. I'd be interested to know how to reconcile the two; Living a life without tracking time while having to do so daily.

   Getting to the point where age doesn't matter while living a life where each day is filled with moments that rely on time.  I love what I do.  But how can I detach my success from my hopes for the future?  Is it too lofty a goal to want to enjoy every moment and use each of those moments to set up happiness for the ones that are upcoming?  Is it even possible not to worry at all about what's coming?

   True, we may die at any moment.  And it would be best if our last moments were good ones.  But more likely than not, we will live.  We will live a long time, and we can't just ignore that we need to prepare, at least in part, for that length of life.

   It's a tough one.  I would love not to feel as though I have failed at life for missing my arbitrary deadlines, but I also know that it's impossible for me to ignore that I still have goals to work toward.  No one wants to live life as a slave to the calendar or the clock, but to what extent can we really dismiss these?  How can we adapt and possibly learn to do both?

   Whatever it leads to, I look forward to going down this path and trying to figure it out.  This is the first time in a long time that something has made me look at myself so deeply and question whether I've been doing it all wrong.