Time is an illusion because, although we can understand it on a scientific basis as a series of predetermined units, in reality it does not seem to function in a straight forward way. Time appears slippery, inasmuch as it changes shape according to your mood. The activities you are involved in, as well as your relationship with the world around you also seem to exert an influence. Therefore is it possible you could change your experience of time by making a shift in your approach?
The Contextual Value of Time
On examination, it seems that you experience time as an ever changing, context based phenomenon. For evidence of this think about what happens when you make time based plans. As you work through your schedule, time allocation tends to be constantly under revision. Some items take longer than expected, whereas others are carried out effortlessly, and quickly. Consequently, it seems that the relationship you originally imagined you would have with your time is an illusion. When looked at in this way, the reality of the juxtaposition of time and your progress through it, is complicated. It’s elastic, and subject to metamorphosis in a way that is hard to define. For example if you are carrying out an activity that is mundane and boring, ten minutes feels endless. On the other hand, if you are enjoying yourself, hours, or even days, can race by.
Your Relationship With Seconds, Minutes and Hours
There must be more to our relationship with time than standard units of measurement dictate. Obviously we need universal divisions so that we can order the world. We need to be in the same place at the same time to meet people, for deadlines, and for making arrangements. Nonetheless, even in situations where we are working towards a specific point, perhaps a change in our personal negotiation with time could bring good results.
Time Is An Illusion: Parallel Personal Systems
Examples of how your relationship with time works are not very useful, because everyone’s version of this is highly individual. However, in order to simplify it, you can say that generally your experience of time seems to be inversely related to what you would like it to be. Frustratingly, when you would like time to speed up, it feels as if it is slowing down, and vice versa.
So, taking the above into consideration, maybe if you make a slight shift in perception regarding your desires related to time, this alternative attitude will bring you closer to what you actually want. For example, concentrating on slowing down at a moment when you would normally will things to speed up, you may find that the time passes more effortlessly than you thought it would.
It’s a mind control discipline that takes practice. It also takes self-awareness, because you already have your own unique relationship to the concept of time. There are most likely deeply rooted psychological, even evolutionary, reasons why you approach time in a particular way. You will have to undo some of your natural inclination.
However it seems that your perception and experience of time can stretch and bend. In that case it should be possible to play with it to some extent. By making slight shifts in your consciousness you can experiment with the level of control you have over it.
All photographs by Ju Underwood, taken in San Lorenzo, Rome and on the Rome Metro