Sunday, April 5, 2009

Time: the Trade-Off

Some people who have seen my live show* are already familiar with (ah hem!) my theory (which is mine) on the compression of time. I was expounding on it to our friends, Leslie and Larry, during the drive down to Florida in February (readers of the Middle-Aged Woman already know a bit about this trip) and our conversation turned to this question:

If that is how Time works (or, If that is how we experience Time), what can a person do savor time? (How) can you slow Time down a little - at least the good parts?

One strategy is to seek out new and/or intense experiences. I think some people approach their lives in this way - whether or not they do so deliberately. Don't you know someone (or are you yourself the type of person) who always wants to do something they have never done before - or tries to "push the envelope" in the routine experiences of life (driving faster, drinking more, eating exotic meals)? While this behavior may be motivated by other agendas, I think one effect is to help slow down time.

But for lots of people, dealing with change is more a love-hate relationship. We may like the idea of doing new and (what we hope to be) interesting new things - but uncertainty and, perhaps, even fear creep in to stifle our sense of adventure. Some of us are just more comfortable sticking with what we know; we relax into our "comfort zone" - and the idea of trying something new is not more attractive than the lure of the people, places and things to which we have grown accustomed.** I don't see anything wrong with that - but I do think it's important to have a sense of your own preferences - so you can make wise choices in how to spend your time.

The other end of the spectrum is a lifestyle where change is sought out for its own sake - doing different things simply because they are different. My personal preferences toward sticking with established routine probably show through in this post. But I truly believe that either extreme (comfort zone vs. rolling stone) has the potential pitfall of missing out on some aspect of life's richness.

Those who constantly seek out change must, it seems to me, regularly change their surroundings (move to new cities, change jobs, breakup with old partners and find new ones) to furnish themselves with unique experiences. But this ignores the fact that some experiences can only be shared by people who have a long-term relationship. You can't manufacture a history. You can't conjure up a shared past (with its joys, sorrows and dreams) in a few days or weeks. It takes...time.

But one thing we can all do is: strive to see the people, places and things around us with fresh eyes. I think living in a place where the four seasons bring themselves to bear each year helps me to do that. And Spring is a good time to remember to look at things closely again - and try to see them the way you did the first time you looked. It may not be easy to do - but I think its worth the effort.

And, who knows? It may even slow the clock down a little.

Take care. ***

*That is, my friends - the people see me in the flesh on a regular basis (God help 'em).
**I really wanted to dangle a participle there - you can scarcely imagine how much I wanted to.

*** Go Green. Go White. Go Spartans!


Middle Aged Woman said...

**Okay, this may kill me.

Jim Styro said...

What did I do wrong this time? Go ahead, teach me. I can take it.