45. Emotional Time

I’ve been thinking about time. And how we think about time.

If I think that I have only ‘so many years left’ I am constantly preoccupied with what I have left – although I can never truly know. So … maybe I should not.

I mean, it may be a lot more than I think. Or a lot less.

So why isn’t it just as rational to think first:

I don’t know how much time I have left.

It could be day.

It could be a year.

It could be several years.

So I might as well stop thinking about ‘how  much less’ time I have left now than yesterday.

That kind of thinking makes you feel ‘less’, whereas you might as well feel ‘more’.

It’s not rational. It’s not a matter of ‘truth’. Or even statistics – that, say, a 95-year old man statistically has a lot less time left to live than a 5 year old child.

It’s not about that.

It’s about the perspective on time that is so damn subjective that we often miss it.

Nobody is denying the statistics in the example mentioned before, but how we feel about it depends on us. On our conscious perspective.

Is the glas half empty or half full? That question has never been more relevant and it’s not just word games.

We can feel we have ‘enough’ time left. If we work with this notion instead of just going auto about it – parotting what everybody else says:

“Oh, time goes so fast.”

“Oh, where did time go.”

“Oh, when you’re so old as I am … etc. etc.”

Just. Stop.

Don’t think: “I am 42. I have a lot less time left, probably, than I did when 22.”

Think: “I am 42. I don’t know how much time I have left. It could be anything. Maybe a lot. Maybe not. So … I’ll just live.”

That’s a conscious choice to be intellectually aware of your age, but not emotionally preoccupied with the construct of how much or how little time ‘left’ that age signifies.

It’s a good trick to learn. Difficult but good.

Even if you have a religion and believe in the eternity of a soul, or some such.

We humans are very much enmeshed in our little thoughts about space and time.

We’re so convinced our thoughts about space and time equals reality, when in reality they equate emotions more.

And emotions are not ‘out there’. They are in us.

We may believe in souls and eternities, but emotionally we are wedded to the experience that life is short.

It feels like we are very short – our lives. Our selves.

It is true, in one sense.

But it only feels extremly problematic when we think about it in a certain way: When we obsess about age, time, etc., like we constantly see our lives as hourglasses running out of time’s sand.

You want to feel you have ‘enough time’ of ‘your life’. Start changing your thoughts about time. Then your feelings.

Using religion only to reassure yourself of the existence of an eternal soul (yours) or using wrinkle-reducing creams to reassure yourself that you don’t age as fast as your body does … none of that will make you feel good enough about the passing of time.

Only working with your very simple thoughts about time, like training yourself to appreciate …

– what may be left

– what you have had

– the best you can expect

… instead of doing the opposite of those three!

So …

Don’t focus on what’s not left. Appreciate what is left.

Don’t forget all that you have had. Appreciate what you have had.

Don’t obsess about how many years you think you may have left. Forget about it. You can never know.

That’s what I tell myself is the best. Now I have to train my mind to be good at it.

But I must. For I know emotions are important here – the most important.

And emotions are perspectives.

And perspectives are judgements:

(Half full? Half empty?)

And judgements create feelings.

(Is it good that it’s empty? Good that it’s full?)

And feelings are more important to what you experience than anything else.

Not reality. Not time.

… Maybe a midlife-crisis of sorts is good for something …

If at least it makes you think in new and better ways.