Time Does Not Fly

I hear it quite a lot at the end of the year: “Man that year just flew by.” Or something like it. Okay, its usually from somebody my age or older. I don’t buy it. In fact, I am more inclined to agree with Laurie Anderson when she leans towards the idea that maybe there is no such thing as time. Its all about how the mind works. Perception. Time seems to fly, or to drag. When we’re happy and excited and doing what we love—where did the time go? When we’re mired in unhappiness or discomfort or dread—total opposite.

On one level, maybe the one Laurie was talking about, the concept or perception blows my mind. I had a dream once, a long time ago. I was on a bus in Mexico, after hours and hours of trying to make connections or wait for connection. It was hot and uncomfortable. So, I dozed off. I found myself in revolutionary France, being led to the guillotine (as was proper for an aristocrat like myself). I was forced to kneel, my head was locked in place, a moment passed—and then swish! Down came the blade. I woke with a start, and my arm hurt.

I had dozed for a mere moment, my hand slipped, and my arm banged against the metal of the seat in front of me. The dream, the entire dream, took place in the (literal) blink of an eye. All that time and experience contained in a moment. I spent exponentially more time thinking about that dream than actually dreaming it. I entered a zone where time did not exist, or at least have any meaning (as we know it). Interesting how, at that time in my life, I listened to a lot of Laurie Anderson, and now, over thirty-five years later, here she is again.

Its enough to do my head in. No wonder that, at the end of every year, I do a little ritual, maybe a little trick, to alter my perception of time and its so called ‘flying’. Here is how it goes. I find a nice place to sit (or maybe it’s done over several sittings) and I start with the first month, January. What did I do? Where did I go? Who did I touch? I started this year not even knowing if I would be on an operating table by the end (got lucky there). I started a job, spent four weeks down in Nelson, met a lot new friends, swam every day … Now, what did I do the second month, February? I was still in Nelson for my birthday. We had a big barbeque and I climbed the big tree overlooking the picnic tables. I started writing some stories based loosely on the fisheries that would turn into an anthology as well as novel by year’s end. Then I ….

You get the picture. Go through your year, month by month. Then get into individual weeks if you can. I guarantee, it was a full year, lasting every 365 day of it. Pour a glass of wine, or fine whisky, or even a coffee, and reflect. There was only one year I avoided doing this, and that was okay. Going through it once was enough, and I never said, even at the end, “Man that year just flew by.” If your year was like that (and would know if it was), Happy New Year! Otherwise, take a trip through time. Bend it, fold it, ignore it, whatever we do with time. Man, what a year!

What I am listening to: Songs from the Bardo, with Laurie Anderson, Tenzon Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith. It is an interpretation of the Bardo Thodol, or The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Absolutely amazing.