We all have a sense that time expands and contracts, seeming to drag one moment and race the next, but what is our constant, our absolute? I believe it is “me,” our core sense of self.
Consider all the subjective qualities we attach to time. We say things like: I don’t have time for that. Time’s up. Your time’s running out. How the time flies. Time hangs heavy. I love you so much, time stands still.
These statements do not say anything about time measured by the clock. The clock doesn’t lie about how much linear time has elapsed “out there.” But subjective time, the kind that exists only “in here,” is a different matter.
All the above statements reflect a state of self. If you’re bored, time hangs heavy; if you’re desperate, time’s running out; if you’re exhilarated, time flies; when you’re in love, time stands still. In other words, whenever you take an attitude toward time, you are really saying something about yourself. Time, in the subjective sense, is a mirror.
The element of time pressure also alters behavior, attitudes, and physiological responses. So subjective time can be an incredibly powerful force. Some people are much more sensitive to time pressure than others. How much better not to feel any time pressure, to blossom fully despite the fact that death exists.
The attitude that life is a blossoming, not a race, can be achieved. To do that, you can’t believe that time is running out. Sending that message to your body’s cells is the same, ultimately, as programming them to age and die.
Yet the fact is that linear time is moving inexorably forward, and to overcome that, we must find a place where a different kind of time, or no time, can be experienced and internalized.
Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1998).