When we come into this world, we slowly start to grasp the concept of time. We contemplate the idea that all events are happening and somehow they can’t be undone. Words that leave the mouth can’t be unsaid and the experiences we live through can’t be un-experienced. They become a part of us but they also become a part of the timeline.
The most important thing that we come to terms with as we grow older however, is that time is limited. This is made clear with the existence of something called Death. Death brings a certain stop to everything a person was doing or living through, it puts a certain halt to time for that person and we can’t tell whether time continues for a dead person because we don’t have many accounts of the afterlife. Still for those of us that have a beating heart, the story of life continues.
As we mature we start to experience the nuances of how time affects everything we do. We start to believe in ideas like time is relative where a minute in fire feels like eternity but an hour of entertainment feels like a flash moment. Interestingly time doesn’t go faster or slower in these moments it is simply how we perceive them. How they get played in our memory and how the experiences are captured in our minds. That is what affects our perception of time and how we react to it. Time changes what we see happiness as because our goals always have to be time bound, it affects our suffering because the longer we stay in a state of pain the more it affects our decisions and it creates a snowball effect in our life.
For instance if you are caught in traffic and can’t make it to work on time, you miss an important meeting and get a warning from your boss which scares you and brings feelings of anxiety which make you unproductive for the rest of your work day, which then leads to your productivity report having bad reviews and the suffering continues… yes this is an extreme case but not impossible.
I imagine that at the end of a life where our happiness comes only from achieving goals that have a timeline and suffering begets more suffering. How unfulfilled, disillusioned, exhausted, frustrated and full of regret one can be. To think that life has been unfair and only filled with suffering simply because of how our memory holds onto the bad experiences a little longer than the good ones. Could this be an issue of mindset? And maybe this is an oversimplification but it is a pivotal factor nonetheless.
Acknowledging how we perceive time could be the first step we take to making the most of it. Accepting that our memory holds onto bad experiences longer than the happy memories could help us become more conscientious to the happy moments and this can change our reactions which could change our perception and try living one day at a time.
This mantra is particularly hard to follow especially in the fast paced world we live in. The people who shape the reality we live in sometimes get caught up in their own mortality. Being blessed with excessive amounts of resources to manipulate gives these people a chance to act on all their dreams and wishes and the people under them have to work at that speed. They have to put up this system or building or facilitate certain motives in society to change what they think would work best and they want to see it come to fruition in their lifetime.
Come back to the young people who see the luxury portrayed by the influential people and they study them and feel like they too should move at that pace if they want to enjoy the fame, wealth and influence these ‘elite’ seem to have.
Most times the youth forget the beauty and fairness of time and how as a young person you have room to try and fail. You are always being prepared for the bigger fish, the bigger decision and many parents try to instill this into their children… but some don’t, they put more pressure on a child after failure to do better without encouraging them to learn from it instead of running away from it. These people end up learning to slow down when their lives have already slowed down and the grey in their hair tells them that they can no longer do things the way they used to. It tells them that some dreams have to be buried. And just like the pain felt after the death of a loved one, the pain of a dead dream doesn’t pull its punches and one is left in a living hell of regret, of what ifs.
And towards the end is when these realisations become more vivid to such aspects of life. When we are still young there is so much hope for the future. The aspirations we have to make a difference, to be the pioneers of change fill us with strength and push us to try and move faster than we can. Entire years go by and when we think back on them nothing truly memorable has happened and if it did it’s not at the forefront of our concern. Moments in the past get more clarity in our memories than complete months, even decades and simply because we didn’t make an effort to be present in the day. We weren’t aware of the now because as children we always looked to the future but when we age we will always look back at the past.
Once we get to understand that there were things in our life that weren’t in our control but simply happened to us, once we learn that there were things we expected and wanted but got something else instead and once we learn that there are things that we accomplished in life that we never noticed, at the end of the journey I think we will be satisfied, nostalgic and grateful for how things actually turned out.
MANIPLE DENZEL EVERD