Last night, the family came together to share each other’s company. We have all our girls back home and, although two of them are now adults, we are still the closely-knit family of the photos in our album. And how time does race past.
Our perception of time alters depending on our circumstances. It either races, during intense activity or feelings of anxiety, or it slows as it is doing now for many people across the world. There are huge spaces where before there was only a block of tasks that demanded our attention. Indeed, we have grown accustomed to sectioning off time into bites that we can digest with a certain amount of ease. Minutes, hours, days and weeks exist in order to make the whole business of living more manageable and, perhaps, more productive. The old idiom, ‘The devil makes work for idle hands,’ suggests that in order not to lend ourselves towards evil deeds we must be busy doing whatever it is that we are meant to do. In these plague times, the Devil must be laughing himself all the way across the globe. We are in a phase of being forced into idleness; apart from those forced to fight our greatest foe.
The Experience and Perception of Time
First published Mon Aug 28, 2000; substantive revision Fri May 10, 2019
We see colours, hear sounds and feel textures. Some aspects of the world, it seems, are perceived through a particular sense. Others, like shape, are perceived through more than one sense. But what sense or senses do we use when perceiving time? It is certainly not associated with one particular sense. In fact, it seems odd to say that we see, hear or touch time passing. And indeed, even if all our senses were prevented from functioning for a while, we could still notice the passing of time through the changing pattern of our thought. Perhaps, then, we have a special faculty, distinct from the five senses, for detecting time. Or perhaps, as seems more likely, we notice time through perception of other things. But how?
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Before the virus struck, I was practising my own experiments with time. I have a belief that the past is tangible, that all it needs to exist is our willingness to provide a space for it. The modern has very little need for the past, beyond remembering the sequences involved in our daily tasks. The spaces I created were those that existed before sleep, usually in the middle of the night when something had scared sleep away, leaving me drifting in the nothing hours. I found that, if I became nothing, I could drift through the curtain of the Now and appear in Then. I always had a specific memory that I recreated, the tiniest morsel of a memory’s memory such as the smell of a spring day whilst out wandering with friends, and the faint sounds of birds flitting through the trees and bushes. Once I had that, I had my anchor in place. It was easier to fall into that perception of the past and from there into sleep.
My wife thinks that I have a screw loose. She is grounded in the present whilst pondering the future. Even in the midst of all of what is happening, she still spends time looking for possible summer holidays, and that is her reality. If time is reliant of each individual perception of it, it is then a table that is filled with tapas that invites us all to enjoy. When she reads this, her conviction of my mal-tightened screw will be fully vindicated.
Last night the entire family pushed at the envelope of Now and found a then and forever.