Making Friends With Time

Paris, 14 May 2023—


"Oh, I don't know where time is gone,
it goes faster and faster with each new year..."

Have you ever heard that from some elders? I did. Many times. I didn’t pay much attention at first, maybe because I had read in a medical study that such perception is commonplace and apparently due to the structure of the brain evolving with ageing etc. Except it doesn’t seem to explain away the entire topic. You see, time is a subjective dimension of existence whereas space is an objective dimension. We can all agree that 1 meter is 100 centimetres and measure it in space. But time is elastic. We all experience the passage of time at a different rate. There are moments when time stands still and we are fully present; moments when time goes unbearably slow when we do something boring; and then moments when time goes so fast when we’re having fun. We’ve all experienced something of that nature. But why would people in their 70s and 80s call our attention to the fact that when they were younger, time seemed to be moving much slower? Is that a truth or a myth? And how could someone possibly prove what is a subjective experience? For me, the mystery deepened.

Chasing time relentlessly

I’ve evolved in the world of fast-paced corporate jobs for many years. It usually comes with the sort of lifestyle in which you’re constantly chasing time. There are meetings often back to back and days when you barely have time to sit with yourself in the office. There’s the buzz of the conversations at the coffee machine with the latest gossips. There’s the seminar that keeps you focused for days. Then there’s the business trip that takes you away from your routines. One meeting collides with another and you’re having to fine-tune your whole agenda, one priority jumps to the top of the queue and you need to revise your whole strategy. Caffeine permitting, you’re in a state of constant high and rarely come down. It’s an interesting world. But it’s not a balanced world. And it cannot foster a balanced lifestyle. Time was going quickly, too quickly.

And on the other side, there was the time spent in nature, with beautiful scenery and animals; moments of contemplation, connecting with the self and the rest of existence. And then, time was often moving slowly. The contrast was enormous. How can time flow at such different speeds, I wondered?

Well, the answer was simple: it’s my consciousness that influenced the perception of time. And some chemicals substances for sure (caffeine is a stimulant!). Feeling it’s scarce and sure enough it will be, feeling it’s plentiful and it will barely move. But which one can be true, as they are opposites? They’re both true! It’s a trick of consciousness, a divine paradox.

But, in truth, there’s no time

I had offered some insights in a previous article. Basically, it boils down to this: time does not exist. At the root of existence, it is movement and therefore change that exists—and is constant. Time is a construct of the mind to make sense of what we experience; what we perceive. Time is the way we perceive the succession of changes in our environment and how our brain computes them: things were in the past, or will be taking place later.

Therefore, the arrow of time is a fallacy. There’s no passing of time, there’s only a constant change and re-arrangement of the universe. Believing in ‘time’ has stolen us from the most important gift of all: the present moment. It is only there that we exist.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
—William Blake

Instead, we desperately navigate between past and future. Full of regrets about our past, and anxious about the future to come, but rarely focused on here and now. And that’s where the tragedy lies: we only exist in the present. Our body only exists in the present.

Blake certainly knew how to catch the divine paradox of time: eternity fits within an hour indeed. Because time is not an arrow, it’s a surface: moments stack onto each other like in a flip book animation. We don’t go anywhere because there’s nowhere to go. Things manifest, unfolding into the now and fading away like an echo.

Letting go of time

It had become obvious that my perception of time was the byproduct of my ego mind, and the level of ‘busy-ness’ I was creating and/or maintaining in my life. After several burnouts, some important realisations came to the surface when I gave up… Indeed, there are precious moments when you can see through the deception of your own ego. There are moments when you refuse to take at face value what is being presented to you and go deeper. And then you may turn upside down your behaviours and belief, and re-assess your standpoint.

Why getting obsessed with time? Isn’t that the ego who wants to do forever more things with the same amount of time—or even less? What if things were simply manifesting when the conditions were ripe, in divine timing? And there’s much philosophical thinking to derive from that…

One thing pushes another, one event stacks on top of the previous one, one thought arises out of nothingness, pretends to be all important and then fades without a sound—if you can only observe them without getting caught up in their story, as in meditation. When you’re on your path, things will manifest in perfection, and all will be fine.

Time is the key to many topics. Only desires that survive through time are worth pursuing. Pointless topics and their noise vanish in the twists and turns of time. Some topics get solved by themselves simply by allowing time to pass. Clarity emerges once we stand back with additional time. With time, real trends and obvious patterns get confirmed. So thank you time for existing! Thank you for not staying static. Thank you for allowing me to take a pause in thinking and decision making till I am ready.

Time is what makes life possible and fun. Without it, the universe would be static and our existence plain boring. We must come to terms with the necessity of time, and with it, of change. Granted, time holds the death of our dear ones—but also the birth of new beings that we will learn to love. Like anything else, time contains the good and the ugly (duality).

But time is my ally. Things take time, and time holds the answers to many of my questions. The deepest truths are hidden in time, not space. It’s the distance in time from an event that gives us insight and allow us to penetrate the truth. We can revisit many times an original event and it can be re-interpreted differently in the light of our new state of consciousness. Time offers the ‘ah-ha moment’ you have a whole year after something occurred: “Now I can see what happened”. Because, yes, sometimes it can take years before the ‘penny drops’.

So, stop chasing time otherwise you’ll attract more of that. Instead, simply be the time, make peace with it, accept the cycles and polarity. Become good friends.

Is time truly accelerating as we approach the ‘event’?

I’ll finish with that. Despite what I explained, there’s a real acceleration of our group perception of time I believe. Because we are caught up in the collective energy. And that energy is about doing more and more things, going faster and faster, wanting more and more. We can ground ourselves and still find the stillness, but when we are surrounded by people it’s easy to get caught up.

I mean, look at us: we have modern technology connecting billions of people together through an information network all around the world, pretty much instantaneously. But does that make us happier? Does that make us more fulfilled? No. It seems that we forever want more. Faster, more bandwidth, more information, more… The endless pit of uncontrolled desire. We can fall for the ‘lack of time’ syndrome or we can shift our perception, change our lifestyle and recentre to experience time in a different way. And that is the power each of us has.


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