The lost hourposted Mar 08 2009 · 3 Comments
I woke today to a 23-hour day and immediately felt, for a second, a slight twinge of anxiety. And then I laughed at myself.
That anxiety-driven relationship to time, which today would say something like, Oh no, you have one less hour in which to get everything done! What will you do?!?! is, to some degree, a part of our culture, and is also something that I find interesting to watch in myself. It’s that same chasing-after-a-mirage-of-happiness energy of, When I get THIS I’ll be happy, or If only I could fix THAT then I could relax…in the end, it’s some form of striving after better circumstances or a better situation that always lies in the future, maybe just around the corner, that will finally allow us to be happy.
I don’t mean to judge it. Only to question it. I know if anyone’s guilty of this mentality, it’s me, so I’m certainly not trying to say I’m above it. The recognition of this always-searching-for-more compulsion in myself was, in part, what I was writing about in Dying Daily. Even now, as I type, I can sense in the background a potential anxiety creeping in…Write your blog as fast as you can, you have a lot do and only 23 hours in which to do it! It’s absurd. I’m enjoying writing, I don’t want to rush. This whole habit of perpetual searching, looking for more, is absurd. But it’s so human – maybe not ‘human nature’, but I think quite clearly ‘human habit’ in much of our culture.
So, I thought as I glanced at the time after waking and pondering the meaning of daylight saving time beginning today, what a perfect day – the 23-hour day in the US – to reflect upon our relationship with time. Do our clocks serve us? Or are they our masters?
The division between using time for life’s practicalities, and on the other hand, it dominating our lives, isn’t always a clear one. But I think in the end it comes down to a simple question we can ask ourselves at any time: What matters most to me right now? Is it getting everything done on our to-do lists? Is it getting something over with, getting to some point where we can at last be at ease within ourselves? Is it trying to get as much as we can, experience as much as we can, become as much as we can, hold onto as much as we can, and live for as long as we can, in the hope that this will make us more fulfilled?
Or, is it to make our inspiration primary, and all these other concerns secondary? To make, above all else, our own core – our own truth – the force that really drives us and moves us. When that’s primary, when that’s committed to, everything else falls into line behind it. And the tick-tick-tick of the second hand is no longer the persistent badgering of a cold-hearted master, but a friendly and humorous reminder of the human tendency to betray ourselves today, in the hope that it will enable us to be more true to ourselves tomorrow.