Writing and Time

I have really been enjoying writing these days.  Especially after reading this book – I decided to change my perception about my journaling and basically just let myself really write.  I think I really needed that book.  And if nothing else, I think it has finally proved to me that I am a writer, and have always been.  If one is a writer, one is always a writer, no matter if you never write or ever publish.  But a writer who does not write – well that has been me in the past:  drinking, drugs, smoking, parties, depression, and crazinessBecause when a writer does not write, it is painful.  And for me, also not doing any artwork was equally painful.  All those years denying that I am an artist and a writer – and denying myself music as well – well it’s a wonder I’ve made it thus far without killing myself!  It just makes me horribly sad for myself.  But this is NOW, and I can heal and move forward.  It’s been such a long, hard road and the road does not end, it continues.  But at least I’ve finally recognized and accepted that road as being real.  Ha – the Road of Being ME. 

So I decided not to go to my writers group meeting today.  I like these things but time is not working for me today – and to be honest I am not sure I even have the money for gas to get there unless my client’s check comes today and I’m running out of time.  Plus I am feeling really content sitting here and writing and I don’t want to lose my mood having to drive to Marin (even though it is only about 30 miles). With Dalton off camping with friends, I am just feeling so greedy with this time to myself.  So I’ve decided to stay home and be self-indulgent. 

And then I had a wonderful walk.  It’s a beautiful day – sunny, breezy, about 70 degrees.  I lost myself in thoughts and music and my mile was done in no time.  My muscles are burning pleasantly.  I started thinking about how cool it would be if we could somehow “stretch” time – like pop in and out of a different dimension where time is malleable.

Say it’s noon and you have to be somewhere at 2 PM, so you have two hours.  But before you go you want to write for an hour, take a 30-minute walk, eat some lunch and then still have the hour and ½ that it takes you to get showered and ready to hit the road.  So we’re looking at needing 3 ½ or 4 hours plus driving time and obviously there’s no way that fits into your 2 hour time slot.  What if you could simply pop into this other dimension, do all the things you want to do and then pop back in with no time having lapsed and can then make it to your appointment on time without having to skip all the other things you wanted or needed to do.

This would probably get too complicated unless what one person did with their time-stream affected nobody else’s time-stream.  And there is also the question of whether or not human beings would be capable of dealing with all that extra time without any physical or mental breakdown from exhaustion.  We want more time, but could we actually handle it?  Although if one could pop into a different time-stream to do things, one could conceivably also do so in order to get extra sleep!  A weird but interesting idea and one I find rather appealing. 

One of the reasons I opted not to go to my writing group meeting today was because of lack of adequate time.  Most people would agree that there always seems to be too much to do and not enough time.  We are constantly faced with making choices, weighing priorities, reacting to necessities and often compromising our personal desires.  Modern life has just gotten way too busy.  What often gets lost in the rush is the time to pursue our soul-deep desires like writing, or painting; time to contemplate, to breathe.  To give our bodies the fresh air and exercise we need, the time to go slow, contemplate nature, make contact with who we are and our connection to everything else, to our world.  These kinds of things take time, but are so important.  This is where we find what makes life special and beautiful, wonderful and worth living.

I believe the only way to really be able to write well is if one takes that time to go slow in solitude and shut out all the busyness.  But how does one find that time when the world always seems to require so much of us?  How does one step out of time in order to connect to and contemplate life?

There are times when I am writing, or reading a good book, or sometimes just listening to music or sitting thinking, when I’ve gotten so immersed that time has seemed to slow down or stand still.   I think most of us have experienced this type of thing.  We all know that “time flies when you’re having fun.”  Time often seems to vary the speed in which it passes, depending on what one is doing.  And some things are exhausting that take little time (or even little or no actual physical exertion; mental activities can be just as exhausting).  And some things we can do for hours and hours and yet feel completely refreshed and energized afterwards.  Maybe our minds just go into different modes that use time differently somehow, I do not know.

What I do know is that the more I try to slow down and be present and intentional with what I do, the more time I somehow seem to have than if I’m rushing around and reacting to things.  The more I rush, the less time I seem to have at my disposal.  Now why, I wonder, is that?

It also seems to me that paying too close attention to the clock can have negative consequences.  Time works better for me when I take a more “right-brained” approach to it instead of looking at it with a linear, left-brain viewpoint.  Because time certainly can seem to be more malleable depending on how you look at it.  I have talked about “time-warps” before and this is the same kind of thing.

Time – if you think about it with your rational mind and look at it too closely, that “time-warp” kind of experience, which is a “right-brain” kind of thing, doesn’t work.  Time actually has little or no meaning to our right-brain.  But looking at it with our left-brain where everything is linear and contiguous and finite, an hour has 60 minutes and there are 24 of them in a day, period.  But our right-brain does not comprehend that; time does not exist in the same way.  So perhaps we can have a better handle on time depending on how we look at it.  There is something going on here.  I have often been totally engaged in my writing, for instance, and will at some point pause, feeling that I’ve been writing for hours, and will find by the clock that only a few minutes have passed – which is a very odd feeling.  Basically, if you look at the clock and see that you only have 5 minutes to do something, it is easy to decide there is no time to bother trying.  But if you aren’t aware of the clock you can actually sometimes accomplish a lot in only 5 minutes – if you are unaware of the time actually passing.

Time has always been a very curious concept to me.  It is nice to know that I am not totally unique in my perceptions though.

the-walking-lesson-jacek-yerkaAnother curious thing:  Sometimes when I have been writing a long time – or when it just feels like a long time, when I stop I often will feel rather surreal and like I’ve just surfaced from very deep water or something.  And when this happens after only a few minutes by the clock – well, it is very surreal and very cool. 

And finally, when I searched for a picture to place here representing the notions of “time” and “surreal,” I came across an artist (Jacek Yerka) that I was not familiar with and I absolutely love his work!  This painting of his appears to be called “The Walking Lesson.”  Very cool art.

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