Thinking about time

Hit and Miss #19


How’s this week going for you? We’re midway through the first month of the new year. (Milestones!)

Yesterday morning I read this lovely piece on time—Paul Ford highlights our attachment to it, playing on different ways of measuring and experiencing its inevitable passage. Since then, I’ve collected a few different angles from which to consider time.

Ford’s piece reminded me of the brief history of timekeeping that Nicholas Carr provides in The Shallows. As part of his larger exploration of the impact of the internet on our brains, he explains how progressively more advanced forms of timekeeping (from sundials to church bells to a watch on every wrist) shaped our experience of time and the organization of our lives. The history of time intrigues me: it considers the social constructions we’ve built around this constant march.

We can also look at time through the lens of art. Three works that grapple with time in interesting ways: Arrival, the 2016 film; Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle; Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami. Some question our linear understanding of time, while others play on the continuing influence that events from our past hold over our present and our future.

I feel this with music, too. On Friday night, I saw a local production of Legally Blonde, a musical to which highschool friends originally introduced me. Musical soundtracks seem especially capable of transporting feelings across time. Hearing the Legally Blonde soundtrack again bubbled up all kinds of fond memories. On the other hand, some soundtracks, like that of Mamma Mia!, I’ve listened to so frequently that no specific memories remain—just the music itself.

Revisiting Waterloo over the break also reminded me of the flexibility of time. Spending time with certain friends transformed me, partially, to who I was when we used to spend much more time together. Reengaging with old haunts also elicits unexpected reactions: though both I and a place may have changed since I last visited it, standing there again foregrounds a mishmash of experiences from my past, mingling who I was with who I became.

Whether a deep understanding of time matters or not, I leave to you. Fortunately, we’ve got a good while to think it over.

Sent on January 14th, 2018.