Friday, January 14, 2011


How many kinds of time are there? We have watches and clocks all around us dividing our days and nights into rational bits. We speak of our calendars demarking the days, weeks, months and years. The span of our lives is measured by two dates: born/died. Scientists speak of geologic time, usually in association with some disaster we’re all supposed to prepare for and never quite manage to because our brains can’t wrap around something that might not happen. We just don’t seem to be adapted to be able to feel or experience the weight of any time longer than about a hundred years. From some of my science reading, I gather this frustrates scientists and insurance actuaries the world over. Then there’s time as described by the universe itself – defined by the expansion of space and time. Physicists have caught tantalizing glimpses at the possibility of another layer beyond even the universe – a local ‘bubble’ of universes. If it’s even remotely true, doesn’t mean that time is a moving target?
“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug” – Dire Straights
That certainly describes my relationship with time. It’s like the Disney joke in Aladdin, isn’t it? Time is this GREAT COSMIC thing and yet I can scrunch it down into an itty-bitty-I-can-barely-breathe prison. You’ve been there. If you have a doctor’s appointment at 3pm and the clock says 2:30pm, time is your pitiless dictator. Surely you’ve noticed that there are times when you have a long list of tasks to tick off for the day, yet it’s easy? Time rolls out before you, a rolling, endless plain of plenty. (Windshield)
Then there are days you’re lucky if a single damn thing actually gets crossed off your list – yet you spent the entire waking portion of your day running around like a mad thing? (Bug guts on the windshield of time.)
What changed? I’m going to hazard to say it wasn’t time or its passage. The earth’s rotational rate didn’t increase; the orbit around the sun remains more or less constant – or at least it’s changing at a predictable rate in tune with the expansion of the universe – which over the course of a human lifespan just isn’t worth calculating into the whole 365 and a quarter days per year. Though that begs a question. What’ll happen to calendars when expansion has shifted earth’s orbit to 365 and a third days? Oh. Never mind. The world ends next December 21st anyway, according to the Mayan calendar. (Kidding! Of course it doesn’t – it’s merely the end of a Great Cycle on the Mayan calendar system. Sort of like throwing out your 2010 calendar and then pinning up your 2011 calendar. At least I hope. I have tickets to Africa for 2013.)
Ehem. My point being, that even if humans have imposed some rigid constructs – like hours, minutes and seconds - on time, our perception of it is malleable, flexible. Change your perception, change time.
While standing outside in the rain with my beloved felines this morning, it occurred to me, as I watched them lifting their faces to scent the breeze: This is the important stuff: My family’s happiness, my happiness (ergo my writing). If I focus on that, on what’s important to me, my perception changes. All the mindless things I’ve done to waste time without even realizing I’d been doing it fall away.
What matters to you? Figure that out and you’ll be the windshield more often.


  1. This is my new mantra: I *am* the windshield. I *am* the windshield.

  2. I dare you to *not* be humming the tune to yourself all day. :D

  3. "Our perception of {time} is malleable, flexible. Change your perception, change time." Very true, but my perception often turns to a decisophobic procrastination because I'm addicted to Spider Solitare. :-D

  4. That is clearly a pattern based meditation, Linda. Really.

  5. I like the windshield metaphor quite a bit. Unfortunately I think I'm the bug there more often than not, but I do my best. LOL.

  6. Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger, baby!

  7. Love it. The windshield will be part of my new mantra for 2011!

  8. Ooh, Dire Straits is my favorite band. More from the windshield/bug song:

    "one day you got the glory
    one day you got none
    one day you're a diamond
    and then you're a stone
    everything can change
    in the blink of an eye
    so let the good times roll
    before we say goodbye, because..."

    And at the risk of too many quotations, I'm going to throw in a little Milton:

    "The mind is its own place
    and in itself
    can make a Heav'n of Hell or a Hell of Heav'n."

    Or alternately, as Captain Picard would say, "Make it So."

    Somebody make me stop - I'm stuck in full quotation mode and getting out of here before I think of another one.

  9. What a beautiful image of you and the cats savoring the moments of the breeze, the scent, the pleasure of shared company.

    ... now Kerry, has given me Star Trek NG earworms. ~sigh~ Where's Q to break shatter the expectations and norms confining time?