By Natalia Chambers
As the days of what we are calling the “current situation” unfold before us, I am noticing some interesting things about the concept of time. Like many of us, I am working a full-time job from home, parenting, and trying to take care of business. Still, there are moments where I’m forgetting what day of the week it is. Sleeping and waking at odd hours has become some sort of the strange norm for me. Is this a thing? Apparently so.
I have noticed several articles and posts recently addressing the concept of time. A few days ago an article from Discover magazine authored by Leslie Nemo popped up. Its title was, “How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Warping Our Sense of Time.” Kevin LaBar, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Duke University states, “As this drags on, and as your day becomes very constrained by your limited environment, the days kind of blend together.” O.K, maybe I'm not the only one feeling this way. I’ve asked around too.
It turns out this is happening to a number of my colleagues and friends. Although researchers like LaBar are unclear as to how the current situation affects our perception of time, research on negative emotions and time might be of some help as we navigate through the turbulence of this ride. Simply put, we have a tendency to give more attention to what’s in front of us when it is threatening.
What worries us, haunts our brain. And anyone who has had a ghost in the house knows, it is extremely hard to get it out! We may remember these experiences and feel that they lasted a lifetime. This plays a little trick on our brain, affecting our perception of how long the experience lasted. Perhaps we can all agree that a pandemic qualifies as a threatening experience?
Long hours in isolation, being unable to leave your house, these realities bond to our sense of time and we find ourselves noticing different things. Have I been wearing the same outfit for the last three days? When was the last time I got my haircut? What day is it? Add this to the anxiety of the unknown and it makes sense that our days may start to run together.
Now, this may be a privileged problem. Often in troubled times people are called to war. We simply have been called to our couches. When losing touch with reality it is good to keep some things in perspective. So, it is important to remember our essential workers, the ones maintaining hope for us stuck at home, while navigating the dangers of the world’s needs. My heart goes out to you. Bless you for all that you are doing to keep the world running.
In the spirit of honouring multiple perspectives I will conclude with a few quotes:
“Time is the wisest counsellor of all.” -Pericles
“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” -Stephen R. Covey.
“Time is a storm in which we are all lost.” -William Carlos Williams
“The trouble is, you think you have time.” Jack Kornfield
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time the is given us” -J.R.R. Tolkein
“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness, how the time has flown. How did it get so late so soon?” -Dr. Seuss
“There’s no time but the present” -A cliche phrase that is actually, undeniably, just true.