What is time? It keeps ticking; never stands still; determines our daily routines, biorhythms, lives overall. It’s an ungraspable element that keeps us moving; that keeps the world turning; that determines the flow of life. We, rationally and physically, see time on differently shaped clocks and watches. Time has a grip on us. It can even be worn as an accessory, if you will. It runs this world. We are subject to it – daily. It defines how we live life, if we are “late”, “early”, or “on time”.
Time is an illusion. – Albert Einstein
And yet, there is a highly subjective component to it: its perception. Once our minds come into play, time is a psychological component and something that can almost appear as an illusion experienced differently by each and every single one of us.
Bridging the Experience of Time
We perceive time in the form of events and sequences of situations. Their connection is symbolically shown by the bridge in the photo above. It is “bridging” our perception of events occurring over time. Everything going on around those specific incidents we hardly see; they appear like a quick blur as we are in our very own time capsules.
Our perception of time is highly dependent on how we approach and live life. In fact, as humans, we are the only living species to be acutely aware of time, and, hence, our limited existence. Therefore, the more mindful we are about time, the more we appreciate it, the deeper we can live.
Going further, our experience of time is based on the sole attention we give it. It is amazing to see how we might experience the length of an event completely differently, depending on whether we are part of it in the present or looking back on it at a later point. Yet, it remains the same event and our active experience of it, as well as the memory that’s created, are, thus, strongly “bridged”.
Time is what keeps everything from happening at once. – Ray Cummings
Although time is based on personal experience, there are three main parts to it that help us perceive events in a certain order: past, present, and future. All of them are intertwined. And, as the bridge above emphasizes, they are the passage that creates and paves the way for our very existence passing through different “time states”. One thing is, unarguably, true: time is a highly poetic concept.
The Flow of Time
Time has many aspects, and, therefore, means different things to different people. “Time passes us by”, – when really, it can’t – but we’re automatically moving with its flow. It is solely our perception of it. This saying applies when we get stuck in a particular moment. Or, expressed differently: “I completely forgot the time”, usually refers to a situation we’ve actively engaged our minds in, so we blurred out the time flow outside of this moment.
Time is “fluid” and cannot even be described as a real “concept”. This is because one universal definition of it does not exist.
Time is the measurer of all things, but is itself immeasurable […]. – Charles Caleb Colton
We can find ourselves standing in the midst of a crowd at New York’s busy Grand Central Station – just like the woman in the yellow dress – seeing people go by in a hurry, because they need to catch their next train “in time”. Whereas, for us, time might be slow, as we are in the moment, observing how those people literally chase physical time. It’s a flow around us, and, by stepping into this world, we are involuntarily part of it. But how we perceive this flow depends on our mindset: The more we are, the more we see time – and ultimately slow it down for ourselves. Yet, this is an illusion, as the physical time that structures our whole human existence does keep ticking.
Moments of Time
Time is a valuable gift. Only when we look back do we realize that we might have “wasted” time by not using it wisely. This is because no two moments are the same. How beautiful – think about it. Doesn’t this make life so wonderfully unique?
Therefore, to make the most of the individually experienced time available to us, we need to slow down. We have to actively embrace the moment and savor all that it has to offer us. Let us not be rushed but experience life just like the woman at Grand Central. Only with this mindset do we have the ability to control time, if only “momentarily”, for ourselves.