A Comment From a reader about how to Control Time

The following comment was posted on my blog site by an old friend whom I have not seen for over 30 years. We recently reconnected and he has been following some of my blogs. His comments have added quite a bit of depth and perspective to each blog that he has reviewed and left his impressions on. This comment was in respect to a blog that I posted last Thursday asking “Is Time too Fast or too Slow for You?” I think Bruce offers some interesting personal advice on how to deal with the flow of time. I asked him if he was okay with my posting his comment as a blog and he said “sure.” Here are his comments. Please feel free to add your own. As a writer it keeps my ego and writing going to know that someone is out there and cares enough to comment or add their ideas.

“I think I can counteract the tendency for time to seem to pass more quickly as we get older. I can manage the feat (perhaps) but cannot say how I do it. It may have something to do with attending to at least some things, some of the time, intensely just about every day. It isn’t that I’m engraving these things in my memory. Unfortunately, my narrative memory is rather sketchy and unreliable, but just that I’m focusing on them for a minute. I think time stretches out for the motorcycle rider as he crashes because he is automatically paying as acute attention as is possible for him to what is happening right now. It is as if we were like cameras that normally take in one frame per second, but we can up that to many frames per second, at least in fairly short bursts. Of course, its not just the visual aspect of experience, but many others that we can intensely focus on, and thus get extra psychological time. And by trying to habitually generate intense attention on a regular basis, even though it amounts to a tiny fraction of my overall experiences,leads me to perceive time, in general, as if it were passing more slowly.

I worked with a guy years ago who was concerned about mortality and who wanted time to pass slowly. He said he had deliberately taken a job he found boring because that would make his life seem longer. I could never tell if he was joking or not. If unpleasant experiences do seem to take longer, I guess it would work, but he would be extending his psychological time only be living a generally unpleasant life. And I’m not even sure if it would work. I think the sense of dragging time during unpleasant experiences has a lot to do with gnawing impatience, of so wanting the thing to be over. Every day, my friend would be released from what to him was a boring cubicle prison, and if that release engendered more joy in the evening than his pain during the day, he might have a positive net for manipulating himself that way. Why did the moron hit himself on the head? Because it felt so good when he stopped. This strategy would be a rational one, if the good feeling more than outweighed the pain (and possible tissue damage). But I doubt that this would really work because I think our painful attention to unpleasant things is proportional to our expectation of their being ended. If there is some relatively permanent circumstance that causes us pain, I think we quickly go numb to it, and sort of zone out about it in a way that makes it take little subjective time at all. Or at least so it seems to me. If he really felt he was stuck in his job permanently, it would have to stop bothering him so much, and his joy at being released would lose its kick as well. It would be like riding a roller coaster over and over.”

Do Bruce’s ideas make sense to you? Have you experienced anything like he describes in your life? Do you control the flow of your time and if so how? If not, have you ever thought that you might want to or might be able to? Are you stuck in a cubicle watching the clock slowly move and waiting for life to begin?

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