Saturday, February 27, 2010


"Space and time are not conditions in which we live; they are simply modes in which we think." (Albert Einstein)

Does time ever stand still for you? Have you ever savoured the exquisiteness of an unrivaled moment so much that you managed to transcend its time capacity? For instance, after the births of my daughters I cannot say for certain whether time flew or dragged during that first brief or eternal hug. For a mystical moment time just stood still and lost its sense of ticking and tocking as though bowing to the majesty of that unique everlasting instant.

Ask me of my university years, however, and all I can remember is a whirlwind. Time just flew. All I have is rapid flashbacks and a rush of songs, flavours and experiences. Yet, as far as I can honestly recall, I was not on speed or acid or even that fashionable end-of-Eighties drug – ecstacy. The only ecstasy was youth as time breezed through.

They say that time does fly when you are having fun, but I’m not so sure. I just think that we forget to savour the moment or even realize we are alive as we cram and rush. So we lose not just the sense of time, but also the sense of ourselves. All that is left is hurried nonsense.

Or perhaps time is subjective. Some minds process things quicker than others. Perhaps one person’s day is another person’s month.

At this point I should say that the dramatic distortions in our perception of time have always fascinated me. Take for instance, dreams that seem long yet only take place in just a few minutes. More bizarre still are stories of alien abductions and snatched victims’ claims that they’d been missing for days when in real time their absence may have passed unnoticed. On telly an eye-witness of the 8.8 Richter earthquake in Chile said that he thought that time was coming to an end... Armageddon!

My guess is that events experienced are recorded at different rates but are recalled at a constant rate. Hence, in body-threatening situations a greater series of events are recorded than in run-of-the-mill situations. When these are played back, the threatening event appears in slow motion detail whereas less detailed circumstances of our lives are played back in fast time.

Something tells me that we still have a long way to go before solving the mystery of time. I’d like to believe that someday we’ll be able to fold the fabric of space and time as was done in Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”. Why not? After all, life as we know it has undergone so many revolutions in the past that more likely than not this will happen again in the future.

Then again, there may be no future. Perhaps the past, present and future are a consolidation of now. And if you think that this all sounds bizarre, please remember that there was a time when people thought that the earth was flat. So if the world isn’t flat, how can we be so certain that time is necessarily linear?

* In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” one of the stories-within-stories involves the tale of a clock built for the New Orleans train station by a blind clock-maker that is designed to run backwards, in the hope that it will resurrect the First World War dead, including his son. Parallel to this clock ticks Benjamin Button’s life lived backwards, the premise on which the plot is based.


1 comment:

Robin said...

I think time is fascinating. I recognize that statement standing alone sounds a bit ridiculous. I really enjoyed this blog. I loved THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTONS. I will read anything on time travel. I also find the idea of parallel lives interesting, all within the same time/space continuum (sp?). Do you watch LOST? I am about to blog on that. They are playing with that right now and I am love love loving it. JJ Abrams is brilliant and creative and well... you get the idea.

Loved your post. I might come back and read it again tomorrow. It was a lot to think about. And tomorrow is another day...or is it?