On the Suspension of Time

It’s October at last: the final stretch of the year.

In recent years (the last five to be exact) the arrival of October has caught me by surprise. It’s not an entirely unpleasant surprise—just the bewildering, disorienting kind that happens when an event you expected to occur in the indefinite future suddenly happens at an unforeseen moment in the present (like a pizza delivery that arrives too early or the unexpected termination of a flight of stairs). One moment I’m watching the New Year’s fireworks; the next moment I’m watching jack o’lanterns hanging off Christmas trees. It’s not just that events are synchronous in our postmodern times, but our experience of time has collapsed altogether.

My habitual reaction to realizations of exacty how fast time flies has been to accelerate the pace of my own life. Over the years, my parents have watched, perplexed, as I juggled ten million things all at the same. Why all the rush? They ask me. My answer, articulated mostly through an evasive silence, was always: Because there isn’t enough time. There’s so much to see and do and try and explore and I’ve only got one bloody lifetime in which to do it all.

This year though, I found myself asking the same question sans the usual pat answer. Why AM I rushing? I asked myself two weeks ago, my muscles tense and drawn from trying to navigate speedily through EDSA traffic. I’ve effectively used dozens of time management, time saving and time optimizing techniques, but what exactly am I saving my time FOR? To see and do and try and explore new things, the experience of which I’m barely present to because I’m too busy trying to cram everything in? How much of my life has passed me by in a blur? (The answer to the last question is a resounding: most of it, actually.)

Since that EDSA-induced epiphany, I’ve made a more conscious effort to simply slow down: to try not to be so efficient, to actually dally in the performance of things. There’s a tremendous amount of internal resistance of course—my inner Nazi goes absolutely nuts—but I’m slowly (very slowly) learning to find grace in the savoring of little things: all the tiny miracles that can only unfold in the absence of any agenda (the distant sound of a Chopin nocturne, the sweaty feel of a child’s palm, the vinegary rush of a roadside squid ball).

Because at the end of the day, it’s not that the age of miracles is over. It’s just that we don’t have the time for miracles anymore.


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