It can be said, everything in life is about timing. Comedic timing is the stuff of legend. In art, if and when an artist makes a living is not solely based on the excellence of the work, but it’s relation to the world around it, its being ‘of its time’ or ‘ahead of its time’, a defining moment or tectonic shift. In daily life, everything revolves around our collective relationship to the clock, from work hours to school schedules, mass transit, shopping, and recipes, to the endless cycle of breaking news and notifications that pop up on our phones. Time has gotten faster while becoming more incrementally assigned a task.
There is a co-existing counterpoint that time is poison. That this constant obsession with time causes it to feel as if it’s always slipping away, that we are futilely chasing a moment we will never catch, while leaving thousands of missed moments in our wake. Another tragic cycle of trying to catch the very thing we are losing in the pursuit, a lifetime of FOMO exacerbated by our own obsession with passage of time.
I am ever aware of this forward momentum, the endless churning of second hand around a dial while minutes and hours languidly follow behind. Since they are time, this passage means nothing to them while I am left haunted every morning when I don’t wake early enough or haven’t finished enough to feel as though I am ahead of schedule. I am always losing time rather than gaining time to kill. Add to this my unrelenting anxiety of being in my mid 30s and the roles we assign and milestones we expect people at this point to have. My mortality becomes very real and intertwined with the fear of ‘having done nothing’ with my time, my youth, my promise. I have become keenly aware especially how we as culture use language around women of a certain age. It sets up the next round in the grudge match, my opponents are no longer my peers, but anyone who’s youth and ability to bear children becomes a particularly keen kind of weapon. My biological clock has it’s own insidiousness that society demands I defy while belittling the methods I might use to do it. My prolonged youth should be magic or ordained by a higher power, but not of my own making through exercise, creams, and cosmetic surgery. The science I have put my faith in is accused of perpetuating a lie rather than being the mytholicial fountain of youth we have been searching for. Because we assign so much to ourselves when we are young and there are still decades ahead while being emboldened with the abject belief that we will become ‘something’, that time will unfold as we plan, this confrontation of mortality and ‘never ran’ cuts to the quick. Yet, time is nothing without that power play of control. Time in this case is autonomic like our breath, it is in how we use our time that our individuality lies.
Conscious breathing, controlling the pace and rhythm then is a way to take the reins of time again, reset the board, and resume the game on more equal footing. Breathing in and breathing out are like pieces moving across the board, blocking anxiety, reducing stress, moving closer and closer the goal. Time always wins the game eventually, but it’s the pas de deux which unfolds that makes a compelling existence.