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Friday
May292009

timeshifting #2

One of the conclusions of both Edgar Allan Poe’s strange mystical essay “Eureka” and Einstein’s musings on the Universe is that both came to believe that Time is Space. The technical side of this insight does not involve us- but the metaphorical truth implied does. In psychological terms time really is space- inner space and outer space.

The feeling that we ‘don’t have enough time’ is bound up with feeling really cramped, restricted, bombarded and most importantly NOT OPEN. We are looking for reasons to say no, clear the desk, get away from it. We are perpetually involved in flight rather than curiosity, which is a necessary precursor to the survival of any kind of animal- it must after all be curious enough to find new food. This lack of openness also connects to the inability to learn. But also, the sense of being cramped and lacking space makes us feel time’s arrow is flying by. But travel out into the wilderness, and the desert is the best place for this, and you discover that all that endless space causes a kind of vacuum in your head. Your problems seem to diminish, get lost in the vastness. And because there is so little to see in the desert, every rock and every dune becomes a focus for your attention. You are suddenly OPEN again, searching out things to look at, greedily almost.

The inner space in your head, that follows the exposure to vast empty outer spaces, experiences a sudden and dramatic drop in the feeling of time moving by very quickly. You arrive at the present. You get to the present- and when you arrive it is as if time is almost standing still- even though you can see the clockhands turn it has no MEANING. You no longer feel anxious.

My dayjob for a while was taking harassed top executives out into the Egyptian Sahara Desert and getting them to experience this vast opening of outer and inner space. I have seen a, formerly ultra serious and, rather worried sales director, dance and sing after a mere 24 hours in this environment, people run up and down sand dunes, others announce it has been a turning point in their life. After seeing the effect such empty spaces can have (doesn't always happen) I feel it is no coincidence that the mono-theistic religions, started in similar places; and that early monasticism began with men and women retreating from the hurley burley of Roman life with its society clubs, circuses and busy life. The Roman Empire is long gone but the desert remains the same.  As a starting place for weakening the merciless hold that time can have on you try to find some empty space in your life.

 

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