I have always had an uneasy relationship with Time. I am conscious of our daily notion of Time as a measure of change and, if I am being honest, I have probably always been rather resistant to change. But it pre-dates that. I was slow to tell the time as a child; always found the combination of hands and numbers on the clock-face slightly bewildering; suffered the collective classroom humiliation of not recognising my quarter-tos from my quarter-pasts.
And now there is Time in the time of Covid.
The passing of Time during the pandemic, I have found particularly strange. With my world necessarily shrunk by Covid restrictions, for the best part of two years now, my routine has taken on a little-varying rigidity. I work from home; I exercise by taking a 4-mile walk around my local park every lunchtime; I do a weekly shop every Wednesday morning; my social interactions have been kept to a minimum. My life has fallen into a pattern, which could appear monotonous and, as such, I would expect Time to drag; for each day to seem endless. But, in fact, the reverse has been the case. The time has flown. I can’t believe that two whole years have passed in this fashion. It seems more like two months. Friends I haven’t physically seen for twenty months, I could be convinced that I last saw only twenty days ago. It is all very odd. Something is odd with Time.
A couple of weekends ago, in a huge break from routine, I took myself off for a short excursion to the seaside. New place; new scenery; new things to do. I expected the time away to flash by. Not a bit of it. My weekend felt like an eternity. Each fresh activity that I undertook seemed to go on forever; the walk to the beach; the walk along the beach; the walk back again. I kept looking at my watch, and it seemed as though time was standing still––and this time it wasn’t that I wasn’t reading the watch right, like when I was a child; the hands were simply not moving. Getting food, buying food, eating food: everything I did seemed to be taking twice as long as normal. My weekend was morphing before my eyes, expanding into a week; a month; a year. It was only two days ago that I had left my house, but it might just as well have been two years; there was only another day before I had to catch my train back home again, but it seemed a date forever receding away from me; remaining forever out of reach, like something on a shelf in the Old Sheep Shop in Through the Looking-Glass.
Something is odd with Time.
Or not. Perhaps it is just me? I put my recent holiday experiences down to sensory overload. Too much new stimulation crammed into too short a period of time; something that has been untypical for me during the pandemic. I can rationalise thus, but still there, nagging away at the back of mind, I know that something is fundamentally wrong with our concept of one of the seven base units of physics. Will I ever resolve this problem?
Only Time will tell.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree is always quarter of an hour early.