Sunday, February 25, 2007

Time and Space and Snow

Because I have two kids, a sister and lots of friends in wintry Midwestern locales, my attention still tends to be drawn to headlines like “Heavy Snow Pummels Wisconsin” and “Blizzard Socks Plains” (a particularly hilarious combination of words that deserves attention all on its own). I read these headlines and find myself thinking, “How can it still be winter back there? It’s lasting forever!” It takes a conscious act of will for me to remember that it’s only February. I know the date (those of you who continue to worry that I might transform into Howard Hughes can settle down), but my concept of February doesn’t include sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s and 70s. I’m sorry to sound like one of those good weather gloaters (and even sorrier to have turned into one), but my apparently entrenched Midwestern standards of time and climate tell me it's April or May, not February.

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of time and the possibility that it can overlap itself. I’m enthralled by movies like Back to the Future, books like A Wrinkle in Time, and even articles on the space-time continuum (which I don’t really understand, but find fascinating nevertheless). I like the idea of time as a loop or a double helix or some other shape that's not a straight line. And the notion that the past and the future might exist at the same time as the present, and that each might have the potential to affect and be affected by the others, is very appealing to me.

Now I’m realizing that my own personal perception of time is also far more dependent on my surroundings than I would have guessed. Like everyone else, I know that time moves like a snail when I'm bored and like a bullet train when I'm captivated. But who knew that physical surroundings could make the passage of two months feel more like the passage of four or five? I've been busy so far this year and I'm not at all bored, but 2007 feels far older than two months.

1 comment:

Karl in Chicago said...

A week after your post, it's still winter in Chicago! I was in Oregon last week and enjoyed a bit warmer weather, though it got all rainy and I felt moodier than I do in Chicago after 30 years here. (I grew up in rainy Oregon, and never remember the rain bothering with my moods!)

That guy with the impossible name wrote a book on the time and attention phenom, called "Flow". Interesting to think you have discovered that 2 months in a beautiful climate and with lots of interesting stuff to do has generated reverse flow for you. I would love it if you could package some of THAT for all us back here in the cold climes!