Brain Food #603

Slowing down time

Thoughts of the day

Time has been, throughout the ages, the good that mankind tends to misuse and overlook the most. Seneca famously said, “It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.” A reassuring thought, but also an intimidating one. When is one not wasting time?

Wasting time does not necessarily mean not doing much with the hours we have been given, but doing what is wrong for us. And thus, time can stretch and shrink, related to what we do with it. When we are working on something we enjoy, time can engulf us. When we are bored, time slows down. When we are having a transcendental moment, time stops. The panacea of constant productivity can also be an accelerator of time. Perhaps, sometimes, it might be better to do nothing, than to spend our time doing the wrong thing.


There are moments when we slow down, and time slows down with us. Poetry can have such an effect.

Time by John Wieners is an observational poem, with a mood similar to Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota by James Wright. He recounts a few moments in nature, before the break of dawn, while pondering on the very question of the ever-changing speed of time.

Full of symbolism, Wieners’ poem extends beyond the visible. In fact, he does not see much in the poem, he only hears. And when we are quiet enough to hear, we can also begin to listen. The poem is not necessarily a happy one, nor does it have any answers to the questions it asks. It is, simply, an acceptance of things as they are and of what time may bring, a balance of good and bad, the burst of new life juxtaposed with someone’s chains.

Time
by John Wieners

Why is it eternity lasts a moment
a moment eternity?

Are you quiet enough to hear horned owls
at dawn?

I hear voices rustle in the leaves
after they are gone.

New mice burst into life.   Small raccoons
bear tiny chains around their wrists.