There is a certain freedom that comes with releasing our hold on time. I wrote an essay last night, the annual placebo effect, in response to the huge volume of change I see occurring around me. Not physical change, but a change in perception. There's a shift in attitudes, a sudden change in priorities, and an increasing emphasis on being reflective, grateful, and aware.
But why now?
The concept of time is something that has fascinated me for most of my life (I've written dozens of essays related to time over the past few years). No matter how deep into the subject I go, I always come back to one thing: now; the present moment. It's the point in time that moves with us. (Or do we move with it?)
In 2006 I wrote an essay called Timeless Living, where I reflected on the possibility that our perception of time may actually affect the speed at which our body experiences time.
As the "new year" approaches, I've been intentionally avoiding the entire concept of "a new year", because really, what makes it "a new year"? I think that term is a bit misleading and perhaps even dangerous. There's nothing extra new about tomorrow. It's another day, just like today and yesterday.
If I held onto this notion that tomorrow holds some special significance, it would change the way I see reality. Incomplete projects, like my Transparency Report which I had hoped to complete before "the end of the year", would suddenly become sources of stress and disappointment.
But more importantly, thinking about tomorrow as holding some special significance would pull me away from now. And really, now is the only thing I actually have. For all I know, something could happen in the next 14 hours that prevents me from even existing in "the new year".
But there's also a danger in entirely releasing the concept of time: It becomes easy to live only for the present moment, disregarding the future as non-existent or unreal.
The future is real. We may or may not be physically present in that future, but it's still going to exist, with or without us accepting it.
The balance I attempt to strike is between accepting that now is the only moment in time where I can actually affect anything. The future may be unwritten and I may or may not exist within it, but one thing is certain: my actions right now will reverberate in that future.
There's nothing wrong with creating new years resolutions or setting goals; in fact, I'm an advocate for both, but I don't believe we should feel caged or limited by the framework in which we set those intentions.
Our concept of time shouldn't be limiting, but rather augmenting. We can use time as a motivation for getting things done, but our foundation in reality shouldn't be based in something that's arbitrary. It should be based in something that's real.
What's real is right now.