What Time Is, Well, That’s Up To You
There are times when you feel your age. How you perceive your age is up to many factors, observations and impressions. It’s unique. It’s your perception.
Remember when you were waiting for the last bell to ring after the last class of the school year so that you could leave the building and start a summer of fun? How about sitting in a waiting room, awaiting news of a loved one’s outcome for a surgery? Or how you were having such a wonderful, magical evening and suddenly the night was over?
Perception. Einstein taught us that time, like space, can be bent and shaped, molded, even turned on itself. But there is something that’s probably impossible to do, and that’s go backward.
I’m talking about how the minutes fly or don’t fly. How you feel that something will never happen or feel that things are moving in rapid succession, too fast for you to respond. Or how you wish it would stop or can’t wait for a time to come. Or how it can feel like it stands absolutely still.
Most unusual is when you feel several of these time perceptions at once. When you have a racing brain filled with all kinds of thoughts and perceptions, time becomes a fluid, a stream, a river. You are swept along with the current. You are at the mercy of that current’s speed, whether or not it forces you into a lee or an eddy or even a whirlpool. But as I have often mentioned time is an arrow in flight and you’re going along for the ride. Like it or not.
Time Becomes Ever More Accurately Measured
Science moves us into strange patterns of thinking. We believe we know a cause of a thing and then we realize it’s not quite as we thought at first. Everything changes in ways both subtle and gross. We change what we perceive by the very act of that perception and then we end up with more questions needing answers, more observations that need explanation and outcome once thought impossible. That’s why I love science. It’s about never-ending change, about educating ourselves about the universe around us and about the quest for empirical evidence.
But time is more fickle, more unusual and more freaky than anyone guessed.
Time bends, snaps, whirls into a vortex, flattens into a pancake and ends at the event horizon of a black hole’s gravity well. As humans our imaginations and our observations are limited by our experiences and the perception that we call knowledge.
As a person trying to understand and live with bipolar disorder, time is monstrous, too. It is just another perceived enemy, something that I sometimes suffer through, waiting for an ending to that suffering. And then comes a time of quiet where I’m able to attempt to understand what knowledge I have been able to learn, to try to accept where I am in time and space and to understand why things happen for me in the way they do. I try to understand the arrow of my own time.
I am not successful most of the time. I don’t know that any of us are successful at all. But I am a creature driven with a need to know, to understand, whether my perception is warped or uneven, rough or smooth, filled with brilliant light or deep, cold darkness.
There Are So Many Perceptions From Which To Choose
Using the tenets of Radical Acceptance means accepting reality for what it is, deciding to tolerate the moment, making the choice to be committed to acceptance and engaging in that acceptance again and again until you finally accept life the way it is. Then you can make decisions to change the things you can change.
How interesting it is that we choose our perception. We can make multiple estimations, multiple observations and come to an endless number of conclusions but what we cannot do is change the outcome of a future event. We can’t change the past. We can only choose which perception we can affect in the now, the things tangible to us, the conclusion we accept. That is how we change the trajectory of the arrow of time.
Grinding The Gears Of Your Universe
Others have described the universe as the perfect clock whose gears run flawlessly. Personally speaking, I have at times thrown a wrench into the works as far as my own universe goes. You can’t just smash the gears of a flawless clock; if you want to affect your universe you must become a mechanic of superb skill and ability.
Being bipolar means many things to each person that suffers from the disorder and for me it means not picking up the wrench in the first place. It’s an old joke about me: You gave him a power drill? What, are you nuts? Do you know the damage he can cause with a screwdriver, let alone a power drill? Oh, yes, I kid you not. It’s sad but true that I have almost no mechanical ability whatsoever and I am dangerous with the most simple of tools. That’s empirical evidence for you.
But when it comes to my perception of time and of the gears of my personal universe I am equally dangerous if I allow negative thinking to gum up the gears of my life. I am dangerous in the extreme if I allow the perception of failure to rule me. And I am supremely dangerous if I willingly throw the wrench without considering which perception I am considering.
Learning to love yourself is a thing strange to me, and having to work toward the perception of the universe where self-love is the norm is at times ludicrous to me. It’s very hard to change my perception of myself without a great deal of very hard work. It’s hard to love myself when my universe seems to have a great many wrenches in an innumerable number of important gears. The clock grinds to a halt and the arrow of time veers out of control toward an end I may not want.
I sometimes think that in the end no one gets to choose their lives. Maybe that perception is simply wrong. Certainly there is plenty of evidence to support that thought. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently, his time was up. He didn’t see it coming.
Acceptance means not picking up the wrench to throw into the gears. It means working hard to fix the gears that you’ve already sabotaged. And it means making the best with the clock that remains.
Appreciating The Value Of An Old Clock
There are a great many reasons that an old clock is considered to be of great value. The clock has seen time go by in abundance, has kept moving forward, taken care of by someone who loved and valued it from its very beginning.
Maturity. I don’t understand it, really, not completely. What I do know is that I am achieving a certain measure of it as my universe ages but the saying above is compelling: it isn’t age, it’s experience.
My clock has seen better days. The case is warped, bent and scratched. The veneer is coming off the base. It rings at times when it should not. It slows down and needs to be reset. And someday it will come to a stop.
In the mean time I will continue ticking away. I will value the arrow of my time differently and with different perceptions as those perceptions present themselves. I will learn to become the mechanic of my own universe. I will make the gears run as best I can. And the old, changed and weathered face I present will simply have to do because I cannot change an ultimate outcome but I can work to keep my gears going.