Post # 534              FREEZE FRAME (It’s about time)

Time, as conceptualized and esoterically depicted by Albert Einstein and knowledgeable physicists, is admittedly, far beyond our understanding. We are, however, content with our own, personal understanding of time, as the measurable period during which an action, process or incident exists or continues.

Time, as we know it, is ubiquitous and enjoys a great many empirical categories. As illustration, there are selected time to rise, time to eat, time to go to school or work, break time, vacation time, start and finish times. There is time to speak up, time to respond, appropriate time, time to consider others, time to rise up; time to for an egg to boil, time to defrost lasagna, time to repair a tire, time for travel, and endless more applications of the concept.

There are many easily available and accurate measurements of objective, or scientific time, such as length of daylight, hourglasses and most common, by far, clocks and wristwatches. Few issues are possible, relative to the universal measurement and determination of objective time. In the present writing, however, we are concerned with what we would label, “subjective time”, the individual’s nuanced perception of the passage of time, or its duration, during eventful experiences, or as we prefer to call it, “felt time.”

Notably distinct from objective, or clocked time, the subjective perception of time, viz., felt time, itself, varies with the empirical nature of the particular event and the reactive nuance of the involved person. Who is it, that can deem comparable, two hours of anxious waiting for the clinical diagnosis of a seriously ill child, or, the painful experience of two hours of toothache, with two hours of pleasant dining or such time spent socializing with old friends. We would confidently declare, that, as a practical matter, one’s felt time is far more (personally) eventful than its measurable duration in minutes and hours.

The advent of the current pandemic has effected a veritable sea change in our subjective perception of (felt) time. The mandated prophylactic strictures against interpersonal contact have resulted in a wide-spread practice of “shelter in place” or quarantine. The resultant constraint, most markedly in personal interaction, has had an adverse and novel effect on normal society.

Individuals who have, for decades, accommodated themselves, outside the home, to a busy schedule of working or running a business, have been obliged to draw on their store of personal inner resources to seek acceptable, outlets to occupy their time during confinement. Common activities have included, reading, writing, painting, needlepoint, playing musical instruments, listening to concerts on radio or an electronic device, performing needed repairs to one’s residence, puzzle solving, movies (Roku) and pursuing former interests or hobbies, now made possible with the (virus avoiding) leisure time.  An altered scheduling of fixed daily routines has necessarily evolved for engaging in such home activities, pending a medically approved vaccine or a natural cessation of the infectious virus.

We find that such new daily routines, while serviceable in filling time, have proven to present a certain unfavorable behavioral syndrome, manifesting an inability to distinguish one day from another. Our homebound days, filled with identical, routine pastimes and selected home activities, soon become virtually indistinct, one from the other. We have often been obliged to consult our google calendar in order to apprehend the day. Recently, we were flabbergasted to discover that it is now, late August; we would have easily believed that it was late June. Time (felt time) runs on very quickly and elusively, by reason of the daily residential similarity implicit in quarantined life.

We confess that we have a regrettable and disturbing concern, proximately caused by the stay at home aspect of quarantine. To the extent that our concept of subjective or felt time has validity, we are fearful that, as yet an additional consequence of the pandemic, we seem to be aging at a faster rate.







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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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