As I sit here staring at my computer, it’s already 2:34 in the afternoon and I’m left asking myself the same question I ponder most days: Where does the time go? I have constantly wondered why the days, weeks, months, years seem to flitter away when we’re happy and enjoying ourselves, and yet go excruciatingly slow when we’re suffering or miserable. Time is a steady measurement, so how is it that we can perceive time in different ways? And why do some moments feel graspable, while others are always slipping by?
I’m left thinking about how slow time felt as I struggled with depression while living in a new city. Jon went to an office every day and those hours alone seemed like a lifetime of sitting in my lost state, considering how often to take a shower. It was agony. During that period I frequented my therapist, hoping and praying that each week things would be different by the next time I’d see her. That I’d feel different. It got so bad that I changed my mantra to “next year,” instead. Time was slow then, lonely. An opaque syrup that kept me feeling like I was held down by something. No, my anxiety said, you can’t move forward like everyone else, you have to watch from the sidelines as things pass you by at the slowest of paces.
But now, many years out of that state, I’m shocked by how quickly the months go by. The weeks before my wedding seemed to speed up as we neared the dates, at first sounding so far away when we picked a venue. Holidays have come and gone with a fast climax from Thanksgiving into Christmas. And these days, life just seems to happen at breakneck speed. I’m left peering in the rearview mirror, enjoying the memories.
Of course, as I’ve made space for peace and meditation in my life, I feel like I’ve been able to tie down a little more time here and there. In fact, that’s why I can sometimes be the most solitary hermit: for the sheer reason that it warrants me the slowing of time. It’s a luxury, to be alone with your thoughts, present in your intentions, and paying attention to what you’re spending each moment on. It’s not possible to do that when you’re in a crowded room, when you’re living on someone else’s timeline, or when you find yourself interrupted by buzzers and conversations. I’ve learned that time-grasping takes intention, and more often, silence.
And what’s interesting about pain and sadness, is that it is also inherently lonely. We don’t feel depressed in groups; people are their own little islands of melancholy or grief, mostly impenetrable by the outside world. Which is maybe why time feels so slow in those states. When we feel alone, we sense time. We’re aware of it, either how it’s pairing us with grief, or keeping us isolated.
Which makes me think that maybe the key to holding time a little closer is a touch of solitude. It seems to be the only way I can wrench hold of the hours and keep them from dramatically slipping through my hands. I’m able to focus on the comings and goings of emails and messages a little bit better, I’m actually able to get things done, but most importantly, I’m able to face demons that will often stay in the shadows when I’m not alone. And also, don’t forget, we need time to accomplish things, time to make plans for the future, and time to ponder our lives. If we’re never holding onto the moment, could we say that we were really present at all?
Lately, my goal is to feel time as acutely as I can, to slow it down, and to capture each instant of life and enjoyment. When I have time alone to feel like I’m in charge of each moment, I find myself better equipped to bask in every nanosecond with others. And isn’t that what all of us should want? To have enough time for all the great things in life?
Yep, I think so too.
Do you feel like time changes speed for you? Share with me in the comments below!