Thursday, April 9, 2009

Time, Take Two

Time has been changing. It snakes through daily events like a sine curve, waving and flaunting its fast and then slow undulations. I know this to be true. Remember I set out to India doing an experiment with time? It was one of the first posts to the blog: my wrist watch time piece ne'er wear confession. And it is time to report back.

I wore two watches when I landed on Chennai tarmac. I selected my Mother's watch, with brand new battery, to be the primary companion. I wore it every day and it got me on the walk to school early enough to arrive in the nick of time to claim my spot in the yoga room. For almost 2 weeks, it waved like the conductor's wand; I was duly orchestrated from without, but motivated for such mechanical guidance from within. It was a new thing, this watch-wearing, and that in itself made it interesting. But the watch got tired of playing the little game.

I first noticed its lag behind the rest of the two-handed band leaders at the end of the first week. I began modulating my trust in the metronome. I second guessed it and left early for things, which got me there right on time. I relied on it less and my inner clock more. Jet lag had simmered down and my interior chime was playing in tune with my movements in life. Besides, by the end of the second week, I noticed my buddy was playing freeze tag instead of Mozart. I traded it in for the Swatch my friend in Switzerland gave me. It had a new battery, too.

I opted for taking more control of this time watching. I wore the watch when I assessed the potential need to look at the time. It accompanied me on outings with friends to exotic places where we may want to coordinate time. It traveled with me for plane catching and event attending. And at the post office, where I hazarded the corrupt "civil servants" for the first time, the watch animated itself by flinging off its clear round face. It exposed its hands to the elements. As luck would have it, I happened to noticed this suicidal leap of the plastic face-window. I retrieved it and pressed it back into commission.

Over the next two months, Mr. Swatch periodically and randomly disrobed. It was always in a public place. I always noticed and found it. Until, of course, the last time. When I didn't find it. That was a couple of weeks before I left India. And that is when the time experiment started to get really interesting.

This watch continued to work, exposed to the elements as it was. But it began working in mysterious ways. There were times when it would stop. Then it would work again, but slower. Then it would speed up. Then it would seem to cooperate with the convention of time around us. I took to wearing it all time. And I watched it.

Time would stop when I entered the Matrimandir to meditate. It started again as soon as I left the sphere and her gardens. It would move conformed to GMT when I was riding the scooter around Auroville or doing mundane things like eating and tidying my room. It sped up during the Sanskrit lessons. And I never looked at it while I was doing my homework, so I guess time disappeared while I studied. I observed this phenomenon for three consecutive days. And more people asked me for the time than on any other span of days in the trip! I never knew what to tell them! When it was breakfast time, my watch might be ticking away at 11:20.

Time is relative, you see! That it dictates the whens of things in our life is an illusion. It is a great social agreement. It is a pact of those who organize the future into compartments that follow cause and effect rules. It is a deity worshipped and honored, throughout the day, every day. There are great sculptures, edifices, towers and bejewelled idols built as altars to it. But, still, it is relative to the mind that uses it for measure.

Rather than leap to its tick and tock, I have sincere respect for its talent at coordinating and bringing things together, but prefer to keep it in its place. I will bring it out when I need it and leave it switched (or swatched) off, like the TV darkened in the corner when there is nothing on that I want to watch.

This was a successful experiment. I learned what I already knew. And I would say more, but it is now time for me to grab my bag and head for the bus. I ride this Good Friday to Avebury, outside of London, to spend Easter amongst the circle of stones, the fields and dew illumined by the waning full moon, that orb, that keeper of time in the heavens, that maker of tides that move variably up and down the shores, that reflector of the sun who marks our years rolling through the Universe, that jester dressed in silver who rises sometimes early, sometimes late and sometimes not at all. The moon, time piece for the soul that sine waves across our skies, keeping pace with the Being, a watch for those who observe...