I was engrossed by this whiteboard-animation video on time perception earlier today (thanks, Barbara!) While I don't agree with some sweeping conclusions ("ZOMG, digital media is rewiring the brains of our children THE HORROR!") there are some nifty, juicy bits in there. In particular, it led me to the concept of the geography of time, something I wrestle with on a daily basis; part of me wants to be maximally punctual and efficient, part of me wants to just flow and float through time and never force my ADHD brain to look at a clock again.
It's probably a blessing (although sometimes it doesn't feel like one) that I'm often switching between both kinds of spaces, and also spend a lot of time in spaces that have strong streaks of both. Hackerspaces float in a weird combination of relaxed, go-with-the-flow alertness coupled with sprints, schedule-crunches, and digital precision of chronography. My family has a bunch of hyperscheduled people constantly told to make more time for each other, but sometimes it feels like we don't quite know how. I won't even get into cross-cultural differences in my increasingly globally-networked life.
I love travelling with no agenda, when my only job is to wander and observe the world. Perhaps that's why I enjoy ethnography so much; your work is to be in the moment, to react to what happens, to be present and be keen.
I also love massive efficiency optimizations, which I do on my life every so often. Right now, I have a shopping list and cleaning schedule, and it's great. I love knowing I've figured out a way to spend $25 a week on groceries that turn into easy-to-cook food that I enjoy having time after time again -- and which is awesome for my health and physical performance. Someday it won't work anymore, and then I'll tweak it -- but hours and hours saved! I love timing my commutes, plotting the optimal route between buildings, packing my backpack just-so in a predictable manner that weight-balances, has everything in easy reach...
This all comes down to the same end, though. I do the fast, efficient things with precise timing so that I'll have breathing room for the slow-paced, timeless moments. It's all about becoming a time millionaire (a lovely little term I learned from Sebastian). I think of it as finances -- you're not rich when you have a certain amount of money, you're rich when you can relax in the confidence that you have enough, and for some people that's a few dollars a day, and for some people a billion will never cut it. (I also live, slightly awkwardly, between those two categories -- but also live with the assurance that I can survive in the former at any point in time, so long as I have no health issues and no dependents. Not too bad.)
Time millionaireship is about enoughness of time. Just like you manage your finances by exerting discipline in some times and places and categories so you can relax in other times and places and categories, you can work towards time millionaireship by going fast and going slow; timing so that you can be untimed. I happily spent $22 on dinner with Joe tonight because I know that plus the $23 on groceries I spent this week is way below the $50 I used to spend on groceries alone each week. I wrote the world's most time-efficient Hearing Aids lab this afternoon because I wanted to spend several relaxed hours messing about in the dance studio tonight. (I'd walked into the building with the lab report stubbed into a template that had blank spots for the data, typed results out in full prose as my labmates worked the machinery, and then all we needed was about 30 minutes to sit and proofread the whole thing and write an intro and conclusion.) I'm pushing myself hard to complete an impossible amount of work before Tuesday night because I want time to be present in Seattle at the conference, with my family, with my friends and colleagues.
I think time millionaireship is the most important kind of wealth there is. Everything else supports it. When you feel like you have enough, that's when you can relax and let go, be there. Best of all is being time millionaires with people you love; that's where timeless moments together come from. I have been fortunate to have these moments with family and friends throughout my life -- and I'm constantly working to optimize my time-millionaire-to-normal-time ratio (see, there's that yin-yang balance again). It is a good quest.
On a side note: the Social Fitness Training Manual may be an interesting thing to look into, lifehacking-wise, at some point. Maybe in a low-risk environment like next semester in Ohio; when you know you're only in a city for a few months, you can argue to yourself that hey, liberation to do some crazy things! I would like to improve my boldness and to learn to love (not just grudgingly tolerate) standing out -- not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of being comfortable for when I happen to be different. I've found "being different" to be an unavoidable part of my life, and have historically awkwardly and reluctantly grappled through it for the times I couldn't hide it ("why can't I be like everyone else?" is still an occasional mental refrain). That's a waste of my energy, my time, my life. Instead, I'll get better at being who I am, and not apologizing for it.
"And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." --Marianne Williamson; the full quote is still one of my favorite passages.