You know what it’s like. You have two weeks away from work and the time stretches out in front of you.
There might be lots of things you want to do and, if you don’t get to do everything in the first week, it’s ok, after all, you still have another week to go.
Then, it’s Saturday and you realise that half your time has gone. And it’s as If time is constructed differently in the second week? Whilst the first week went by nice and slowly, it’s as if this second week is on speed.
This is like life. Your first 40 years are like that first week. Lots happens but there still seems to be so much time to do the thing you want to do. But, suddenly you’re approaching Wednesday of the second week and you can’t understand where the time goes?
Don’t Worry about Wednesday
When you get to Wednesday, you may have had children in your twenties and have been child free for many years. Or you may have little ones in your life in the form of grandchildren. or you may have not started a family until you were 40 and have children at home. That’s if you have children at all.
But whatever stage you’re at as you approach Wednesday, your experience of this time totally depends on how you think about it.
Some people are old at twenty-five and others are youthful at seventy-five. And this has nothing to do with whether they’re a yogi master and can put their leg over their shoulder and everything to do with the way they think about themselves.
And, just in the same way that some people spend half of Sunday worrying about Monday and the people on a two week holiday start to think about going back to their normal life and problems on the last Wednesday, it’s easy to spend your time regretting what you didn’t do and worrying about what you might do instead of enjoying this day.
After all, it’s only Wednesday, you’ve still got lots of time left, you just need to slow it down.
How to Slow Time Down
Well, clearly, you can’t slow time down. But, as you know, time is a tricky little sucker that seems to speed up or slow down of its own accord. But there is a way of slowing time down.
Have you ever taken a three-year-old for a walk? They stop all the time to investigate everything they see. They stop to look at flowers or watch insects. And this can be wonderful or drive you to distraction depending on the state of mind you’re in. Often you see people trying to hurry their children along when the best thing is to be more toddler and pay attention to everything around you.
How often do you pay attention to things around you? A few years ago we moved to live by the sea and are so lucky to be a few steps away from the beach. But it’s very easy to have my head down working and forget to look up at the view or to have my head so full of a thousand thoughts that I don’t see the view even when I do look up.
Science tells us that time appears to speed up as you age because you perform more routines. You do the same things every day and often don’t learn anything new. Learning exercises your brain and brings you back to this moment as you have to be present to whatever you’re learning which makes time seem to slow down. But you don’t pay attention to routine mundane tasks, you might perform them on autopilot and time seems to go faster.
The day has disappeared but you can barely remember what you’ve done.
Think about an evening sitting in front of the tv compared to an evening out with friends. You might spend two hours watching a film or two hours chatting and laughing and, although when you’re with friends it might seem as if the time has flown by, when you remember the evening, the memories will help you to feel that you spent a long time with your friends whereas you might barely remember the evening in front of the television, the time just passed by.
And how about remembering the endless days of your youth when days seemed so much longer?
Professor Adrian Bejan says this is because when we’re young, each second of actual time is packed with many more mental images. Like a slow-motion camera that captures thousands of images per second, time appears to pass more slowly.
We all know the old adage to make the most of every minute and have probably nodded wearily when someone tells us this but this really is the only way to slow time down. To be aware of this moment. And this. And this.
To experience your experiences.
After all, there really is only today. Even if it is Wednesday.