• Lucia Joyce

What Even Is Time Anymore?

My computer says it's Wednesday, 10:44pm. BUT my relationship with the concept of 'Wednesday' has changed, and the concept of time in general, if I'm being honest.

My friend Anna and I had a weekly check-in call slated for today. When she messaged me I could not believe 7 days had passed since our last call. It felt like 2, 3 tops.

Shane and I took a drive yesterday (I think it was yesterday!) through Calabasas and Topanga State Park to the Pacific Coast Highway. We wanted to stare at the ocean for a while, and the weather was utterly delightful (sorry to brag). The beaches, trails, and parking lots were all closed, but you can still park on the side of the highway in certain places and look out over the cliffs to the Malibu and Ventura County shores. We saw a couple of sun-bleached law breakers taking a swim below us, and watched a huge seal (maybe sea lion?) swim close to shore for a half mile. It was both utterly divine and anticlimactic, because it brought back all our memories of doing this after a full day of play at the beach. I couldn't help but reminisce on the epic birthdays, 4th of July parties, and music video shoots with crews of friends that we won't be recreating any time soon. The breezy ocean air and the beautiful drive still brought a sweep of unspeakable gratitude. As we walked back to the car, thinking about bygone days, we realized we forgot our 5-year anniversary. It was a week prior, on April 8. Whoops.

*(Happy Anniversary Bae! I love loving you!)

The days have truly begun to blur. We're living in a kind of endless present moment. Deadlines for most things went out the window with the cancellation of almost every event we hold dear, and we are left only with ballpark goals and dateless to-do lists. "Organize closet and bathroom drawers" has been on my whiteboard now for 10 days. We're spending all our days in the same familiar spaces. Social media is an endless scroll of celebrity live feeds, TikTok challenges, and song and dance, which I love, but the time whittles itself away whether I'm conscious of it or not. I frequently forget whether I've put on makeup by the end of the day, and I couldn't tell you how much time I've spent on the phone with the people I love. Hundreds of hours seems plausible, but I could have probably gone longer with most of them.

I keep looking at the clock and simply not computing the meaning. When I finished my cooking blog at 1am this week, it barely registered. My body thought it was 10pm.

Einstein said time slows down or speeds up depending on how fast we move, relative to something else. And if you're like me, your usual things/people relative to your usual concept of time have been waived during COVID quarantine. Your workdays and workweeks, major events, project timelines, date nights, and just reasons to leave the house are all kind of moot. So time is passing differently. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster than anticipated.

It was kind of like that on cruise ships, too. But at least you have show times and ports of call to hold your place in time.

The concept of time being non-linear has slowly taken root in my brain, since I first learned about it, getting high on field research trips with botany PhD students the summer after Grade 11 (probably my coolest year of life). Movies and books that have tackled non-linear time: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Arrival, Memento, Interstellar, The Last Five Years (still my favorite musical even though the story is a little too close to home for me not to ugly cry), and Run Lola Run are the ones that come to mind for me. They've kept me continually piecing together theories for over a decade. Plus, I've been doing all this work to utilize more of my right brain, which is purported to think outside the concept of time (whoa). I've also been doing more reading into psychedelic culture and studies, which has a lot to say on the subject.

In this pandemic age, I'm less in my regular 24-hour cycle and more in my memories and thoughts, where time is a bit different. Hence, looking at the clock elicits a whole new reaction. Luckily, I've written something every day since January (!) and have a handy reference to the timeline of it all. Falling into the rhythm of writing daily has sort of become my new clock structure. I gauge the time of day, less by numbered clock faces and more by whether I've finished a blog or not.

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