With Christmas madness fading to grey we turn our attention to the prospect of yet another year having shot past at an unprecedented rate. Where did 2013 go? Did someone remove a few months from the calendar while you were distracted or is time actually speeding up?
This was a topic for discussion during a philosophy lecture I had a university many years ago. The professor put forward a theory on “what speeds up time” and I think it makes good sense.
When we were young we always experienced new things. Every day we did something new and the number of tasks we completed in a subconscious ‘auto pilot’ mode were few. Because we weren’t in auto pilot that much we were continually in a conscious state of mind and were aware of time passing.
As we move through life we start to do more and more things on auto pilot without having to really think about what we are doing. A good example is driving a car where the many tasks required to successfully drive a car are completed quickly, efficiently and without giving them any conscious thought – when was the last time you thought to yourself as you rushed off to work in the morning “right, now I’m going to gently take my foot off the clutch while simultaneously pressing down the accelerator” – you just do it, right?
This simplistic example can get transferred to many other parts of our life, until nearly the whole day is completed on auto pilot because most days follow the same routine.
The professor suggested that in order to “slow time down” we should spend more time doing things that are new, that we don’t normally do and that require us to flip back into a really conscious state of awareness for longer.
One of the obvious problems with doing this is that it can seem hard to continually find new things to experience. You’ve learnt to drive, you know how to type and you can make a bowl of cereal with your eyes closed.
Another issue is that routines and auto pilots are actually pretty useful for the logistics of day to day life!
So the real challenge is to create a lifestyle that involves a good number of new things to do, places to go, things to learn, challenges to take on. Variety is not just the spice of life it also seems to help treat chronological expeditis – yeah I just made that condition up.
Every time you do something that keeps you from the relative comfort of auto pilot you spend more time experiencing time and less time letting is slip by. If time is slipping you bye then it’s time to flick the switch back into manual pilot and get out there and do new things.
Happy New Year to you and yours from My Virtual Mission.
What are some of the new experiences you’re planning for 2014?