Saturday, March 1, 2008

My greatest fear

One of the most peculiar things about me is that I have this mortal fear of looking at watches or clocks. I dread being aware of the time.

As with most fears, my chronophobia is impossible to rationalize. I already had it since childhood. When I received my first watch from my dad, I detested it. For me, the disturbing ticking sound emanating from the watch reminds me to always hurry and do things with urgency. It felt like a timebomb on my wrist. It's probably the thought that watching every second tick is a reminder of time wasted, a creeping countdown to the end. Since then, I never wore a watch again.

The thing I really hate about the concept of time is that it quantifies life’s magical moments. The walls of time divide our experiences into segments, sundering apart the wholeness of life. It sets intervals and imposes limits on things that should have been immeasurable and free-flowing.

Of course, there are consequences. In this world where time is king, my fear is indeed debilitating. I am often clueless in my thoughts and random in my actions, often turning up late in class and in project submissions. I end up wasting boatloads of time since I am unmindful its limits and constraints. Still, I never looked at the time unless it was absolutely necessary. I have this outlandish belief that time does not pass until you look at it. It certainly does not exempt me from the reality that every person is a slave of time’s inevitability. I just love the “lost in the moment” feeling. I just feel so alive when I totally lose track of the time.

Losing awareness of time sometimes feels like transcending the limitations of mortality and of this world. We lose our sense of time when we pour out our entire consciousness in a certain endeavor, such as reading a good book, playing an addictive videogame or participating in a good conversation with a friend. Even for a while, we get to escape the shackles of time’s prison cells and experience true freedom. It’s surely no coincidence that the people who claim to have found inner peace are the ones with commune with nature and lose track of time. Conversely, the people who are the most stressed out are those who perpetually had deadlines to meet and appointments to attend to.

Time is unforgiving and constant, yet at some level we are in control of its rapidity. Why is it that time meanders like a drunk snail during Eco or Theo class, but rushes faster than a wild tempest during the fun and boisterous times we share with our loved ones? It’s all psychological, and it’s something we can overcome by opening our minds to the glimmer of hope and excitement in everything.

Good times or bad though, time eats away at life, steadily and surely. I had been afraid of time because I saw my life crumbling inconsequentially before my eyes. Now that I have realized what I’m truly afraid of, I am trying to overcome my fear. I guess that what I have to do is not to hide from time but to make use of it, not to think of each day as my last but as my first.

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