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About Time

The notion of time has been the subject of philosophical and theoretical debate and (naturally) numerous films.

According to A-theorists, events are ordered as future, present, and past. When we speak of time in this way, we are speaking in terms of a series of positions which run from the remote past through the recent past to the present. B-theorists argue that the flow of time is an illusion, that the past, present and future are equally real, and that time is tenseless. Time is, according to your belief tensed or tenseless.

I respectfully and humbly disagree. I believe that time is emotionally driven and may be warped depending on your emotional state and individuals with mental ill-health have the ‘ability’ to focus on past events leading to a significant influence on their cognitive abilities, behaviour, decision making, planning, motivation, self-regulation and sense of identity in the commonly held notion of the ‘here and now’. 

I say ‘ability’ and here I move away from the theoretical and place myself firmly in the centre of this debate.

I’m must be thirty something and I go to a friend’s wedding. It’s a long drive and I’ve recently had a sporting accident so the event sticks on my mind. Although the roundtrip was an unpleasant 5 hours I couldn’t stay over as I needed to be back in hospital early the next morning to receive treatment – no B&B for me. During the wedding I spoke at length to a friend who I’d worked with in America and stayed in touch with upon our return. As the conversation progressed I asked her was she enjoying her job highlighting specifics recounted from our previous discussions. To cut a long story short she was amazed by my ability to recall finite detail which she had long since forgotten. At the wedding my memories weren’t prompted by names, dates or places but by pleasure. Previous discussions happened during a time of heightened emotion driven by anticipation, discovery and positivity often punctuated by stories reliving our adventures in America.

Unfortunately, memories aren’t always down to positivity. In my darker times I’ve spent hours reliving events prompted by pain and suffering. Events when I wished I’d have been more confident, more defiant and even braver.

I’m at a work meeting, scheduled over two days, in a large, ancient, hotel complex. I’ve been working for the company close to ten months at this point and it’s been a far from positive experience. With hindsight I should have resigned months earlier. My anxiety was reaching an all-time high and within two months I would hit rock bottom. As the event progressed I became more and more withdrawn and for two days I barely said a word. A month later I was called into a meeting where I was told my contract would not be extended into a second year. I sat there still saying nothing. I merely accepted my fate and breathed a sigh of relief whilst mentally harpooning my manipulative boss.

In the years that followed I would consciously and I’m sure subconsciously relive past experiences each exercising leverage over future based thoughts and thusly disrupting emotional regulation. More particularly, my thoughts and mental images I would form about the future would defer to emotionally significant events from my past. This is perhaps no surprise as I believe I am, after all, the result of my experiences.

This is all well and good and in many respects no surprise. However, I’ve realised when I’m running, time changes. It appears to follow no discernible law or theory – be it A or B. When I’m running my future orientated thoughts are positive, never more so than in the afterglow of a run. I can skip from 1994 to 2004 to 2024 in a millisecond and irrespective of the memory or future thought it seems my brain refuses to accept any negativity and, if present in a memory, is converted into energy. The highly creativity part of my brain that revels in the newness of each step appears to truly dominate in the run moment. I believe I can do anything and as a result, irrespective what has happened in the past, nothing will hold me back. Of course, each run becomes part of the process and even ‘bad’ runs feeling positive. My ‘positivity bank’ is now growing exponentially.

Maybe it’s the simple fact that running for me is following one, simple, undeniable mantra; relentless forward progress. As I continue to ponder I am erring towards time being tensed. I used to fear the future and perhaps this was because I feared the past and the darkness therein. Not anymore. I respect the past, I acknowledge the past, I do my best to understand the past and, at times, I draw on the past. But there is no fear.

I’ve moved on. It was time.

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 Thanks as always to Brett for sharing this blog. 

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