Take a significant chunk of time, a day or just a part, and steadfastly promise yourself not to look at phone, watch, or clock.
Already the gears of the clock-centered mind will have spun to a frenzied rate, navigating and negotiating when such an exercise might be ‘possible’.
“It will have to be on a weekend because of Emily’s school and Science Olympiad activities.” “I have three big proposals that need to be in by the 20th, so maybe in a couple weeks.” “I could do it between 1PM and 3PM next Thursday while I drive to that conference.”
One would think things should feel simpler under this regimen, to let Time take time. You wake when you wake, seek out food when you feel hunger, go somewhere when it feels right to go, and so on.
Just a peek at the mental and logistical gymnastics required for the experiment is enough to deter the average clock junkie in seconds; they cannot possibly venture so far out of their tock-enforced enclosure without a stress ball or Valium in hand at the very least.
And then, maybe not.
The idea for this experiment came as I read a paragraph describing the once-widespread lifestyle which developed from the simple experience of being sensitive to changes of the land and sky, the turn of the seasons.
I attempted to imagine a stretch of time that was not defined by seconds and minutes and hours. Instead of angrily flinging the numbers away from me,
I let them gently fall away.
In stark contrast to this measured release,
my awareness wildly jolted and broke open in every direction.
The haze, grey and indistinct and filled with cascading numbers
like something from the Matrix series,
twisted, sharpened, and grew faster than I could possibly have anticipated.
Around me unfolded grasses and flowers nodding in the wind,
thick trunks of trees
with leaves extended to whisper their meticulous records.
My head tilted back of its own volition,
and with a rush like vertigo I had no choice
but to take in the full grandeur of the night sky.
The vast expanse of lights in deep darkness
stretched the limits of my awareness beyond the edges
of what I had previously thought I could withstand.
I could hear every sound around me all at once, with none standing alone
and all blending seamlessly into The Song of What Is, the Oran Mor. Then deafeningly, not without great awe and a little irony, all the sounds
were consumed by one
like the massive stone gears of
a great mechanism, THE Great Mechanism.
Humans have attempted to replicate and imitate the motions of this wondrous mechanism for centuries, to harness and record each precious second. The effort seems, at least in some ways, to have horribly backfired on humanity. Instead of expanding and evolving within this unknowable mechanism, humans have jumped the track to go careening off into stagnant darkness. We spin our wheels in the mire and hopelessness of routines, ruts, and schedules; so busy are we with curating each event that we fail to fully experience them. Depression and anxiety run largely unchecked, barely held at bay with medications and the promise of ‘vacations’, as if those really exist anymore, if you work just a little bit harder, plan a little bit better.
That is not to say that humans have not made great advancements from being more conscious of time spent. It cannot be argued, though, that vital things have not been buried in the clawing, relentless fixation on ‘progress’ enforced with blinders Fear and Greed, things which desperately need uncovering for a healthy future.
If you have read this far, I strong encourage you to leave comments with your thoughts on the experiment and your experiences with it!