So most days I have several moments when I have done a lot of work, covered a lot of miles or had long conversations but when I check the time it turns out just 10 minutes have passed. This is because of what I have come to think of as ‘mind mileage’.
Time – to my mind – is the single most important technology ever created by humans. In my opinion, there is no other creation by humans that comes even close to having the kind of all-encompassing impact on life and living as the technology of Time. Why do I term it technology? Because, I have come to believe that there is no time – it’s a manufactured concept, aimed at productivity.
Today, everything that we do or feel or think is bound by time. But was it always like this? Was there always a sword hanging on everyone’s head on when, how much, how quickly, and so on? What if we free ourselves from these bounds of time? My theory is that we would then be on the first step to being free as individuals.
What will happen if that deadline is not met? The earth will stop? People will lose respect for me? I will lose my job or a contract? And if so, so what?
To be honest, I like the concept of time. It has helped me in understanding myself, and the world around me, and as I questioned, argued, and understood more, I was driven to question the way the concept of Time is implemented. What I am saying, I guess, is that the concept by itself is great, it’s how people use it that may be counterproductive.
Even after four and a half decades of life, I have no concept of Time. I follow the rules, and understand what it does, but if you ask me, “Do you believe in Time? Believe that it is real, that it is natural?” I would say no.
Someone (maybe more than one), somewhere (maybe in different places), many thousands of moons ago (maybe even across ‘time’), sat and studied the rising and setting of the sun and the moon, the passing of the seasons, the patterns of sun-lit periods and moon-lit or dark periods … and started thinking, and identifying the patterns, and categorising them, and measuring them in some way, and then finally, the ah-ha moment arrived and started applying it to day-to-day activities: like hunting, gathering, eating, ablutions, sleeping and so on. And over subsequent thousands of years, a concept of Time was evolved, shaped, applied, reshaped, reapplied, till it became codified in tribes and communities and so on, till we arrived in modern times (past few hundred years) where everything is bound and dictated by time.
I started thinking about this in my teens when I first questioned why one must conform to eating at a particular time. Didn’t make any sense to me. Later that led to going to school on time, studying for fixed, defined class sessions in the school, playing in fixed durations, and many other clashes with established norms. I wanted to play longer, study longer, read longer, spend more time in the practical classes, make things on my own for longer. When one gets immersed in something, it is nothing short of criminal for a clock to intervene and intercede on behalf of a norm and break the flow of learning or doing. Which is why study schedules and work schedules, in my limited knowledge, can often lead to the exact opposite of desired outcomes.
Nobody had any answers, so eventually I found my own, which led to a period of constant clashes with family, school, college, job bosses and so on. So I had to and did find a way to be myself and yet conform. And after a while, I completely withdrew from all conflicts related to time and schedules. Even today, I work and play and think and write and generally live bereft of time constraints – I just made a small adjustment in my mindset to accommodate all necessary external time protocols and ignored all other schedules. When I design, I design at a stretch from concept to options of design to storyboards to visual doodles – in a continuous stretch of 36, 40, 48 hours or whatever it requires. When I write or paint or sketch or read or make something … it’s the same. In between, I cook, bathe, drop and pick up the children, run errands … all in an automated fashion, completing each task and getting back to the broader activity on hand.
I cook, but I don’t cook with time or measures. I cook with smell, and visual. I don’t take medicines or follow courses of antibiotics, I let the illness run its course through my body while I work and play and live my daily life … most illnesses run their course and are out. Great doctors know this and I have been fortunate to know two of them, and they helped me in developing courage to listen to my body, and trust my instincts. Injuries and surgeries are different, and for those, I go to my doctor and listen and adhere to everything they say.
I usually don’t travel with a schedule (unless it’s for work or a social commitment). I just start from home and take it from there.
I have always been amazed at how much one can accomplish in a 24-hour day, if one is free of the clock. And I am still learning and discovering that the human mind and body has no limits, literally. And the number of amazing people I have met in my life so far (who follow different tunes, traditions or dare to be different) inspires me ever more.
It had never occurred to me t0 share or define for anyone else the steps of such an approach – mostly because everyone finds their own way out of life’s challenges. At the end of the day, it is not only the technology or tool that leads to meaningful change – it is how we wield those technologies and tools that define the nature, extent and impact of the change.