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Time theory

We are all slaves of time. So much for stating the obvious. But really, I've been in a brooding mood for the past couple of weeks. I've had little to do and much to think about so even the tiniest of ideas begins fermenting inside my head. 'Fermenting' because wine is made of grapes, but grape juice is nothing like wine. Alright, enough about cliches too.

Now, back to the topic. Slaves of time. Time controls our every move, etc etc. Yet we are all under the illusion that we are 'in control' of time. I noticed the other day (one might say rather late and too elementary after living for 21 years) that something that happened a second ago, a joke, a funny moment, a moment of understanding etc. is akin to something that happened ages ago in that nothing can really bring either of those moments back. Both are equally lost in time and confined to the vaults of memory. Forever. Now again, forgive me for stating the obvious, but it has a rather flattening effect on all experience that one gains. However long ago it might have happened or however recent it might be, an event is only as fresh as you remember it to be. It's oddly chilling. Not in the 'spine-chilling' sense, rather a chill of excitement. A thrill in knowing that this confirms, or rather reinforces; for 'confirms' implies proof beyond doubt; my belief that ones life is completely subjective. I believe that we all live within our respective bubbles and that we can only perceive the universe through them. It is gratifying to know that even time is confined to that bubble.

Why confined you ask? Well, the proof that anything exists, lies either in it's own tangibility, or in the tangibility (or measurability) of any or all of its effects. The largest proof that time exists is that we age. Why not that we die you ask? Well because death is influenced by time and nothing more, while aging is directly related to time. Anyway, time itself is intangible. It is in fact highly conceptual. Few people claim to know what time actually is. It's not so simple as a second beating away. It can vary just like temperature, it can be stretched, compressed and even, if you believe Stephen Hawking: taken in reverse imaginary! So what is the ordinary perception of time? The sun rising and falling, the day passing by, the hours ticking away? Going by that, since the rate of seconds ticking away on a clock remains constant, then our perception of time should never ever change.

However, it is not so. Stuck in a meeting/boring lecture/traffic jam time seems endless. Whereas when one is doing whatever one enjoys the most, time seems to fly away. Hence we should conclude that time too is subjective, or at least our perception of it (which according to my Bubble Theory is the only thing that matters). What influences the speed of passing of time? Time perception is divided into two parts: the immediate and the long term. I have good reason to believe that, at least for me and perhaps for most of us, rate of immediate time is the rate at which we think. Now all of us have a certain number of thoughts that pass through their head in a given time frame. In an empty or dull setting, we pay more attention to the thoughts flitting about in our heads than we do while we are truly engrossed in something. Hence the disparate length of passage of time.

Secondly, the long term sense of passage of time is in the freshness of our memory as we recall that period. Just as when we look at a distant object, the farther away it is the less clear it appears to be and vice versa, our clearer memories and the subsequent clarity of the memories leading to it give the illusion that little time has passed. Let me illustrate by an example: one of my happiest memories is the day the robot I built, took it's first steps. Since that memory is clear in my head, some of the days 'near' that day are also clear (although memory is anything but linear). Thus although it has been 4 odd years since that day, it feels almost like it was yesterday. This also gives the illusion that the subsequent 4 years passed inordinately quickly leading to an innate assumption that they were joyful and engaging throughout. This also works in vice versa: I do not remember particularly clearly my 3rd semester. In this it seems far away, distant even. In this the illusion of time persists.

I met my friends after a long time yesterday. In the same place I met them perhaps (there it is again!) 4-5 weeks ago, maybe more. In the end I realized, we all have certain moments, certain periods of happiness that we really enjoy. We make them like rooms in our heads. Rooms that we return to when we are most in need of shelter or solace. In the end we are always trying to re-enter these rooms through reality by attempting to recreate those moments. But I think we all know it's impossible, yet we keep trying anyway, for old time's sake...


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