Fluidity of Time
Have you come across the new traffic lights in the city centre that count down how long you have left before the lights turn red? HOW stressful are they?! I know how long 10 seconds last – but when I’m crossing a busy road, I spend those seconds imagining a trip, a fall, dropping bags, tangled shoelaces, banana skins etc. etc. and then I’ve run out of time.
I’ve never been great with time; my relationship with it has always been a bit tricky. I come from a family of ‘relaxed‘ time-keepers, so when I got a ‘proper’ job, I had to train myself. Mostly though, I seemed to be running out of time; a relentless ‘tick tock’ above my head counting down from ten-to-zero.
My obsession with time means I regularly ask what time it is – a bit autistic-like, inevitably to work out how late I am for something. When I was teaching, time was so crucial in school and so therefore, my whole life. You had a time to wee, time to teach, time to meet, (occasionally) time to eat, time to print resources – but essentially, you had to be in a certain place at a certain time. Irrespective of what time it was, I couldn’t help but feel I was always running out of time. I never had enough time to wee, to meet, to eat. It was never enough. I would regularly address the Planning Room with “Do you think I’ve got enough time to…?” unable to gauge for myself. As if I hadn’t quite grasped the concept.
But now, time seems more fluid; as if there’s enough of it to go around. As if somehow, it’s slowed right down and embraced each second it has. When I was initially off, I wondered if it was just that I had slowed down as things took longer for me to do, or if time itself had slowed, enabling me to do the things I needed to get done. When you’re not measuring time against a clock, there seems to be more of it. I can fit more things into my day now that I’m not worrying about running out of time. I’ve found that the least obsessed you are with time, the more it seems, it will leave you alone; harass you less.
I used to panic if I thought I was going to be late. Now, I have more of a manana mentality – I think it’s healthier – allowing things to just run their course. Time-watching makes it behave oddly, cruelly, a bit like a tyrant. In the shop, time sometimes feels as though there are a few days rolled into each one – and then on other days, it feels as though there just isn’t enough. Either way, time is less rigid now; less like a straitjacket and more of a pal. I’m not afraid of time anymore now that I’ve come out of a life where there’s less of a focus on it. A bit like a crap relationship; as soon as you begin to indulge it, focus on it more, it will take over. I enjoy taking my time with things now – it’s kinder and lasts longer.