There is something strange about the way our mind relates to ‘time’. Space distance is measured in light-years – big units of ‘time’ – yet as we view the night sky we think we are seeing starlight occurring at the same time as the moonlight. Only the images in our brain are happening simultaneously, not the emission of the light. If Sirius, our closest star, is four light years away it is reasonable to deduce that a great deal of the starlight we respond to in our brain actually left its source before we were born.
Another strange thing about our perception of ‘time’ occurs when we are in a long queue or a drawn-out hold up when driving on a freeway. We begin to think five minutes of waiting must be fifty minutes. Our brains deceive us. Yet other days ‘time’ flashes by and we can’t believe we are late for an appointment. “Where did the ‘time’ go?”, we say to ourselves.
As we age every year seems to pass more quickly. ‘Time’ has somehow been compressed. It is already only six weeks to Christmas. Christmas is no longer a ‘light-year’ away. We are urged to get on with our Christmas shopping. ‘Time is running out’.
Sitting in a movie last week, I was so absorbed in the story that I felt almost as if I was living it. The story took place over a decade, and ‘time’ for me was being extended to allow for the emotional response to the penultimate and final scenes. Strangely I started to panic that my car in the movie car park would be gone, towed away, or I would be paying a fine for leaving the car for over the three hour limit.
I’ve come to think of ‘time’ as a fluid concept – not the minutes and hours on our daily clock. I have great sympathy for the swimmer who loses a 200m race by one hundredth of a second, such is the precision of the timing – a hair’s width on the touch-pad, less than the proverbible ‘blink of an eye’. To me that is a dead heat. Surely the sound of the start gun to the swimmers’ ears could amount to the actual difference in time between the two swimmers.
We often say our mind plays tricks on us, and that is why my childhood years were much more drawn out than my geriatric years, and why these days my tennis racquet misses the ball that flies past. I’m a ‘hair’s breath’ too late. As we also say, “a bad workman always blames his tools”, but that surely can’t apply to me. My mind is ‘on the ball”.