Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Published 11:43 PM by with 0 comment

Chronophobia - The Illusion of Wasting Time Pt. 2

2023 Edit: I didn't realize until 4 years later this was still in draft. Getting fixed right now. 

The Problem:

I did the math today to see how many hours a reasonable life expectancy actually has. 24 x 365 x 80 comes out to 700,800 hours in 80 years (this does not take into account leap years for which another 480 hours would be added). As you have likely spent a few of those hours looking for help and relief for Chronophobia, you may feel, as I did and do when the existential depression is riding high, that this is really quite a small number for a life to have. For some, it costs an hour just to get to a place where you have to spend 40 hours a week just to barely afford to live, and because time doesn't reverse (that we know of as of 2019), that number gets smaller still.

And then you factor in that you need about 8 hours a sleep every day, and an entire third of that goes away. 

And THEN you factor in that you might not even live to see half that age and, well, that number gets so much smaller than the already somewhat less than impressive 700,800 - suddenly the fear of knowing that this lifespan moves in constant motion going forward can become a lot easier to recognize that someone with a clinical anxiety disorder would have a really difficult problem with.

However, this remains an illusion, and in this part, I want to examine it more to the present with a first person perspective.

Wasting That Time Is Still An Illusion:  

Time is real, but the perception of it is what creates a problem. 700,800 seems like a small number when we consider how wasteful we get with whole hours, but is it really that small? 

It is October 2019 as I write this. You know what life was like 700,800 hours ago? Take a look:

* Hitler was still alive.
* No Beatles or much of even the foundation of rock and roll.
* Amelia Earhart was just NOW declared dead.
* The Wizard of Oz just came out a couple months ago.
* La Guardia Airport in New York City just opened.
* Gone With The Wind hasn't come out yet.
* A new car was $750.00 and a house cost $4,000.
* Extraordinarily crude forms of televisions had only been commercially available for about a year.
* There were still only 48 states in America.
* For much of the world, it still might as well have been the 1870s as the technological progress and lack of globalization had left much of the world unchanged and left to their own individual progress.

Now go up through the biggest of the big historical bullet points and the idea that 700,800 hours isn't enough really should go out the door. 700,800 hours is a really, really, really long time and you might still live well beyond it! If we take out the fear of being geriatric (which, again in keeping with the theme, you should not be anyway), then we see some great possibility even after that time period. 

Remember also that time, as it emotionally applies to people (and therefore the focal point of this series), is not a fixed variable. Time is relative according to Albert Einstein (who was also alive and influential 700,800 hours ago). The famous way of describing is that sitting on a bench and talking to a pretty girl for an hour will seem like a minute, whereas sitting on a burning stovetop for a minute will feel like an hour.  By the time most people in highly developed countries and pretty safe cultures reach their midlife, they begin talking about feeling like time is flying and that each year feels shorter. This is an illusion. Time moves at the same rate it did for them during the days when their nostalgia tells them that the Summers lasted forever and that they couldn't wait to be older because being young and small was taking too long. There's actually been quite a bit of study on this and it is recognized as a social phenomena, not something that really objectively happens to individuals.

One study suggests that this is because, by the time we reach our adulthood, we get into fixed routines that we didn't have in our younger days, and start learning a lot less. Not as much feels new to us, not as much new things are coming right to our door, so the time we spend doing routine things becomes less noticed and therefore blanks out in our mind - which creates the perception that time is speeding up. Time isn't speeding up, people just tend to make less memorable experiences as they stay in their comfort zones when they get older.

Whether or not one wants to be in a comfort zone in adulthood is entirely up to them - remember, the whole point here is finding relief and safety in your emotional response to time - but the perception of it remains an illusion and, if you really try, you may start instead feeling like you've been alive forever instead of the other way around. 

Time Is A Tool, Nothing More:

You can't measure your life in numbers of quickly passing things. While it is possible to calculate how many hours a person has had between their birth and their death, such a practice is emotionally meaningless. You don't know how many minutes, hours, days, months and years you have in your current incarnation, and this is really the right way to go about it. The whole reason we can go about our daily lives and make things in this world important is because we don't know the future. While it is wrong and irresponsible to totally give the future a miss in terms of awareness and active consideration, there's no way you can truly plan everything down to a level that will satisfy your existential anxiety. If you could, you'd never look at and be able to enjoy the present. You'd always be neurotically obsessing about the biological clock and trying to get everything right as the hourglass sand falls and your existential depression would turn into full-blown breakdown and permanent damage in no time.

Time is only relevant as an event organizer. It's only relevant to conducting business and fun, it's not something to be afraid of. You aren't going to age the same rate as everyone else, you don't know when you're going to die, and you weren't keeping a ledger of how much time you spent doing things up until now in the first place, so there's no point in being worried about it. There's nothing even logical for a reasonable fear to build onto, it's just existing fear and anxiety looking for something to attach itself to. Even then, after you run out of time, you're going to get your turn again anyway eventually.

The past is gone, the future is always ahead but never actually "here", all you have is the present. The present is always changing and that's the way it's supposed to be. Without change, there wouldn't be anything, period, much less anything for you to enjoy. Time moving forward is what allows joy to happen at all and even if you don't feel like it now, you really wouldn't want it any other way.

Relax and enjoy the present.

In the next, and last, part, I'll go into some further details on a structure for proper perspectives and further things to think about on it.

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