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Are you a prisoner of time?

October 12, 2012

Matt Smith as the time-travelling Doctor Who | Image: BBC

Heraclitus once wrote, “No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

It’s a very poetic way of thinking about how the passing of time affects us as human beings.  Some of us are in a constant state of anxiety about time – stressed at work, with not enough hours in the day; depressed and lonely, where time seems to stretch out forever in front of us; or the very real fear of death, in which we worry about time running out.

Psychologists Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd in their book “The Time Paradox – The New Psychology Of Time” believe that most of us only become aware of time occasionally:

“Time’s power often hits us only after a momentous event, the death of a loved one, a near-death experience, or a massive tragedy such as 9/11.  We usually use time almost automatically, to schedule our hours and our days and to mark important life events like births, birthdays and deaths.  Time is the water that moves our stream of consciousness, but despite its centrality in our lives, we seldom reflect upon the ways in which time draws boundaries and gives direction and depth to our lives.”

How do you feel about time?  Does it give you order and structure, or do you feel like you’re a prisoner of it?

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