After watching Bill Moyers interview Professor Jonathan Haidt, I went on to www.yourmorals.org and signed in. I started taking the quizzes and could see how this could become addictive: spend 5-10 minutes answering questions and get immediate feedback on self compared to others AND help with University research. Love it. One of the quizzes was about perception of time by Professor Zimbardo. I took that quiz and confirmed that I am very future oriented. This quiz has a bonus in that you also get a link to the RSAnimate YouTube video, “Phillip Zimbardo: The Secret Powers of Time,” that is entertaining and informative to watch.
In this video he mentions Robert Levine’s book, A Geography of Time. I downloaded it from Kindle and began to devour it. It starts with the how the pace of life differs around the world and why. It made sense AND it explained some of the cultural conflicts between the Maori/Pacifica people and European transplants in New Zealand. People who live along the Equator generally are much more present focused and northern Europeans–especially from industrialized societies–are future oriented. As my friend UK Sarah would say, “He/she is not very o’clock.”
The author then moves on to talk about aspects of the perception of time. I have always wished that I could have a time envelope where you enter to accomplish a specific task that takes 10 hours, say for instance to edit my novel once more all the way through, and then emerge when completed and find that only 20 minutes has passed. Similar to the way the characters in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe pass into Narnia, enjoy all sorts of adventures and re-emerge to find barely any time has passed.
Zen masters have been able to accomplish this kind of time warping for spiritual journeys in meditation. Of course Western psychologists have experimented with this to boost productivity. This is different than “flow” or the concept of getting so caught up in the moment of creating or experiencing something that you do not notice how much time has passed. (This happened all the time when I was riding horses or working in clay.) Instead, this research is about “time expansion.” Cool!
Using hypnosis, “expanded present” subjects are able to create more per unit of real clock time. A professional violinist reported that she was able to use her subjectively expanded time to practice and review long musical pieces, which improved her memory and her technical performance. These tools would have been more helpful before my redesign when I always felt pressed for time. However, the temptation will always be to use this superpower for evil, that is, for pushing myself to work more (i.e., read more Bay Delta documents), instead of using it to create something beautiful. I will stay focused on creating more time by reordering my life.
Right now, with probably a year before I can go back to New Zealand, I feel like time is dragging. This is probably because I am slightly depressed. When you feel down time slows to a crawl. I am still processing that I am in Sacramento, working as a consultant, living with my daughter while my heart is in St Heliers.
Having shared all of this, join me in meditating on this exchange from Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett:
VLADIMIR: That passed the time.
ESTRAGON: It would have passed in any case.
VLADIMIR: Yes, but not so rapidly.