Did you have a chance to take five minutes yesterday for some quiet time? How did it go?
One interesting challenge of this exercise was, of course, to notice how difficult or easy it was to carve out that little island of time for yourself. But another aspect is to consider the ways in which it seemed to pass: how fast, how slowly, and the methods by which you marked its passage.
By clock? By breath? By heartbeats? By the time it took before the demands of your environment would no longer wait for you?
What exactly is five minutes? There are many answers, of course. For instance, it is the time it takes every day for 15 million sheets of office paper to be used. It is the time during which about 208,000 plastic bottles are tossed out in the U.S. One American dies from an accident every five minutes.
And this year, the Doomsday Clock was reset to five minutes to midnight – its worst setting since 1988. This decision was made when the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in consultation with a Board of Sponsors that includes 18 Nobel laureates, decided that because of the “deteriorating state of global affairs” events now point to the “brink of a second nuclear age… Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property.”
I hope your five minute time out was more enjoyable than these examples.
Obviously, the passage of time is often very subjective. When we’re comparing five minutes until the doom of humanity, to the five minutes for a tea kettle to boil, time is going to feel entirely different, although the clock may say they are the same.
So what is time, exactly? Let’s begin to take a look at that tomorrow! Meantime, see if you can continue to take one five minute time-out for yourself, to be quiet, to pause, and to simply be.