I recently have had the opportunity to step away from time, as I have always known it.  I stopped work, moved out of our home, and travelled for the pure pleasure of it, leaving all commitments and responsibilities behind.  Time is something that changed for me because of this experience and it was a common subject for conversation and thoughts over the last few months.  We often measure time by how it feels to us, it feels like it passes quickly or slowly, and I wonder if this relates to how we feel about what we are doing or what we have done.  We also can feel this fast or slow pace about other people’s activity depending on how we feel about them or their activity.

Time is often related to work or other commitments, for me time was always an issue at work.  There was never enough of it and it was referred to in terms of priorities and frustrations with lacking control over these.  Time in the structural sense has benefits; the management of it in a demanding job can make you super organised down to minutes, to fit in what you need to do and when this works out the sense of satisfaction can be great. Thinking about time from the perspective of managing it can make things possible; it can make you feel in control and to see how you can do more.  However, it can also be exhausting to be moving at a pace with things to do all the time.  So our relationship with time changes when our commitments change; with less commitments time becomes less relevant, less of a concern.  I found though that while travelling, I still maintained similar patterns to when I was at home, some are so ingrained, but the real time according to a clock meant a lot less.  I also lost that desire and need to organise myself using time; and when I needed to it felt difficult and did not come naturally.  It seems it is something to be learnt but can be forgotten, what a relief!

Time exists within our cultural lives and is referred to with ideas about life and what it might involve.  Ideas about what is a good use of time, what is a waste of time and what is expected at a certain time infiltrate us as we grow up.   They are shaped by cultural events like certain birthdays, education, weddings, leaving home, having kids or day-to-day activities like work, socialising, being with family and shopping.  Some of the ideas that we live through everyday can create questions when we decide to do things differently.  Ever asked or been asked about plans for marriage or children? Ever felt sad or bad for wanting to stay in on a Friday night; ever wondered about someone’s decision to work or not?   These norms and values, our ideas about time, shape our lives even when we don’t realise it.

My Time piece…. is the Swatch Watch in lady green with a wrap around strap.

I asked my 8-year-old nephew to ‘brainstorm’ some ideas on time with me, he is just one person I have chatted with about this theme.  He wrote his own blog on what he thought about time but I’d like to share this picture of our work on time which we did in text and pictures.

Reading Time…

Phileas Fogg here’s a man who took a risk with time but was quietly confident all the time that it would be on his side.  In the end, something he didn’t realise, but should have considering his previously proven knowledge of the world-allowed him to win his bet at the gentlemen’s club.  Of course, this final fall in his adventure allowed him time to see what was important in life…love of course!  Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days is a classic, entertaining and an easy read.  I enjoyed it but still prefer the cartoon version where he is a lion and has a hot air balloon.

Phillipa Perry she has reminded me of the importance of time to yourself.  I feel much healthier in body and mind when I have some regular time to be by myself, not much just ten minutes or half an hour here and there to check in.  Practicing Yoga taught me the total beauty of quiet mind time.  So like Mrs Perry points out there are two types of being with yourself, one to consider your thoughts and another to stop considering them.  In fact, I think the second often leads back to the first, if you can find a minute to stop and be quiet you often find that you think much clearer afterwards.   I read Phillipa Perry’s book, How To Stay Sane, which is a contribution to The School of Life series.

Firstly, I really disliked the title, as it seems to buy into the simplification and marketing of interesting subjects allowing them to be pigeon holed for marketing purposes, however, the description and reviews did it more justice and I read on.  She is a psychotherapist and she shares many tricks of that trade but adapted so you can use them for yourself, I think a lot of them have value.  Where I found her completely unconvincing was in her case studies and research examples that she used to support her arguments, whether it was their brevity or her narration of these, they did not do much to improve the book or convince you of her point.  She seemed to over simplify and therefore devalue what she was saying.  I would still recommend the book for some ideas on understanding yourself and others but as for staying sane, whatever that means, it’s just a title.

The School of Life series is related to Alain de Bottan and his philosophy books and courses.

Phillipa Perry is married to Grayson Perry.

Victor Frankl- was a prisoner in Auschwitz and other concentration camps during world war two.

Much of his discussion on surviving this experience has to do with time.  He describes how time was spent working, eating, sleeping and in relationships with others.  Time seemed to become important in terms of future rather than in the moment, he believes that if a man- and he does only refer to men- could maintain a belief in something in the future however small, he could survive his experience however terrible.  The past also seemed to disappear from the consciousness of many as a survival mechanism and because of the emotional abuses suffered.  Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl includes a fascinating account of camp life as well as his theory on therapeutic treatment of survivors.  For my writing on visiting Auschwitz (and more on my time travelling) visit www.milanseurotrip2012.blogspot.co.uk

Time to say goodbye…

So that’s my first post on a green moon, thanks for coming, I’d be very interested in your thoughts and comments on anything you have read now or later.