Sunday, October 14, 2007

tick tock

Funny old thing, Time.

I had a Big Discussion with LG this week about the nature of time. She was trying to get her brain around the way time stretches and contracts, oozes and gushes, veers from great speed to sluggy torpor. She thoroughly stretched my powers of debate and explanation but I finally managed to communicate what I thought about about relativity and perspective.

She couldn't initially grasp how our experience of the elasticity of time is possible, given the constancy of the clock ticking away regular minutes and hours, but she understood an analogy: though a car might be travelling at a constant speed (like the clock), it could seem to us to be going either faster or slower depending on whether we were standing still, or were travelling at speed ourselves.

It seemed like such an obvious and familiar point to me, but was a bit of a revelation to her and our discussion has left me reflecting on my teaching, and how I no doubt still make lots of wrong assumptions about my students' thinking and how much they do or don't understand what I am on about. And this very point - about how our experience is always a matter of interpretation, and how interpretation depends so much on our stance and context - is important to so much of my teaching.

And though we have only been teaching for a couple of weeks this academic year, it is LG's half term in a week's time. Its an uneven half-term this year - so not actually half-way to Christmas. But still. Blimey.

This certainly makes time seem very loopy.

Today we had a family party celebrating my sister's 25th Wedding anniversary.

Double blimus.

Blimey o'reilly, even.

25 years.

It was my brother's 25th in the summer and I spent some time searching through old photographs, to find some choice pictures for an album his children were putting together.

How were we ever so young? and how is it that I now feel just as young, but also so.... not old really (well... just sometimes) but - i suppose the feeling is that I've travelled a long long way? In terms of the way I see things now and what I've learned - some of it too late I fear; in terms of what I wish I could return and tell my younger self.

But then, would I - the younger me - be able to grasp it?

It will also be my 25th wedding anniversary next year.
I can't at the moment begin to approach any kind of thinking or feeling about that.

Time, time time see whats become of me.

I saw this sundial on a pavement near home this week - and yes, it was telling the right time.

But I had to check against the time on my mobile phone, to know this.

I've stopped wearing a watch lately. I'm always glad not to have to wear a watch at weekends and when on holiday. And I also had to get a new (and outrageously expensive) strap for my watch, so was watchless anyway for a while. And it occurred to me that I only really have to wear it when I am in the classroom.

Making the most of the moments comes much easier to me when the loops and whorls are not measured against a watch.

Its a bit like exploring a place by wandering, without a map.

And I suppose a change of seasons is part of the context for my musings about time. It just seems so impossible that it is still not 6 months since mum died, it feels like half a lifetime. Except for those moments when it seems like half a breath away.

But look around, leaves are brown
and the sky is a hazy shade of winter.


Gary said...

Rather a heavy concept to wrap our minds around - TIME. Someone mentioned the other day that 1980 was 27 years ago and my first reaction was to say she was wrong but alas, she was right. I remember 1980 and in some ways it seems like yesterday, until I think of my experiences since then. I can't beleive I am in my 40s already when I feel so young. In 20 years I'll be in my 60s!

From where I am sitting on the side of the road time is going much too fast, but from my seat in the car I sometimes cannot see it. That is why I am careful to take many moments each day to take it in. That is why I tell my family and friends I love them. That is why I cherish the little details.

So far I have never had the feeling that I should have done something in the past in these areas that I want to correct. If someone who you can no longer say "I love you" to knew that and heard that when they were physically with you, then all is right with the world. I am sure you take solace in knowing that you had that with your mum.

I am long winded on this topic and I didn't even touch on your teaching...but I'll sign off for the moment.

Wendz said...

Time, the passing of it..the warp factor that pulls me from morning to night to morning without seeing a second of terrifies me. Scared, I am. I now understand that I am mortal and time will stop for me one day. Terrified.

PG said...

I think by the time she is in her thirties she will begin to realise...

Vintage to Victorian said...

It's nearly 7 months since our 30th WA, but I'm sure it's less than a year since our 25th.

Time is THE most peculiar thing and you've explained it perfectly. An hour is as long as it needs to be although it's rarely the length of time we WANT it to be - it's either too fast or too slow; the outward journey is always longer than the return journey despite the route being the same; the week before a birthday goes far more slowly than the week after, but why is it that the week before Christmas travels at twice the speed of the post-Christmas week (unless you have to go back to work the day after Boxing Day of course). It's 34 years next month since I lost my dad. I've spent well over half my life without him, and mum has been widowed longer than she was married, but it can't be that long since I told him I was expecting his one and only grandchild. But it must be: he died 3 weeks later.

As for teaching ... we often make incorrect assumptions about our students' perception. I haven't taught since the end of the 80s, but found such diversity of understanding between the several hundred YTS trainees I was responsibile for on their day-release courses. They came from all walks of life, but there was certainly very little stereo-typing to latch on to. It was a fantastic learning time for me,too, learning to understand and progress their 'in between' status. I wonder what time has done for them ... The scary thing is that they will soon be 40. Perhaps some of them have a blog. Perhaps they read my blog and don't know it's me. I wonder ...

Sorry Lettuce - I rambled - for an indeterminate length of time!!

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow that song takes me back - WAY back.

As you know, I love thinking about time. It's a slippery dimension, that's for certain.

Did you know that the Sanskrit definition of the the terrifying goddess Kali's name is "time"? Time is the destroyer, definitely!

Brian Greene's book Fabric of the Cosmos is an easy read (such as physics books can be) about the physics of time/space and string theory.

I LOVE the sundial! That's beautiful. Thank you for making me think about one of my favorite subjects, dear friend!

Akelamalu said...

I remember our 25th wedding anniversary so well, that was almost 8 years ago! Where does time go???? It certainly flies by a lot quicker once you get past 50 I can tell you.

Shelly Lowenkopf said...

Excellent timing.

tut-tut said...

Time is certainly elastic. I was just measuring it by how old the shoes were that I was wearing!

I wish I walked in your neighborhood; fantastic sundial and poetic stenciled words. What more could one ask for?

Steve said...

Simon & Garfunkel! Woo hoo!

I don't know what to think about time. I guess I don't think about it much. I just try to notice it as it passes. But this year certainly has flown -- October already! Does that mean I've been standing still, or traveling myself in the same direction? Hmmm...relativity...

martin said...

Tempus fugit.......or is that fidget ?.

Country House Antique Textiles said...

Always thought provoking Lettuce :-)

I always cry at the Fairport Convention song 'Who knows where the time goes?' as it reminds me of our mortality and that life is so precious and short. Every minute matters.

Dumdad said...

No, Martin, it's tempus fuckit!

And my 22nd wedding anniversary is next year.

Crikey, how time flies when you're having fun.......

la bellina mammina said...

Oh well I'm jealous of you people celebrating your wedding anniversaries!! It's been 9 years that my late husband passed away and we have been married for only 5 months....


lettuce said...

oooh some long comments here! goodie....

Gary you're right, I did have that with my mum. Some other regrets... but i'm glad you don't.

oh wendy. breathe deeply. stop wearing a watch. I don't think it has to be something to fear, does it?

PG - funny really, is she better off seeing it or not?

V2V - don't be sorry, ever! i enjoyed your ramble.

Reya, i thought you'd like the sundial. Interesting about Kali, i didn't know that.

Akel, noooooooo, don't say that!

Shelly: :-)

TT - i could think of a couple of things. Tis a good place to live tho, you are right.

Steve - maybe you were dozing? ;op

haha martin.

CHAT - yes. xx

LOL Dumdad. I mean - well, really!! 22 years. Yes, well - thats what I've heard.

Bella- :o(
I hope you'll have lots of anniversaries ahead, and not only the sad ones.
and tbh, i'm not sure we'll be celebrating exactly.... :o(

herhimnbryn said...

Time flies and I drag my feet to try to slow it down. Small moments are more significant somehow and time with loved ones so very precious. I'm 48 and feel half that age, but my greying hair gives testament to the passing years.

Lovley post Lettuce Woman.

Jess said...

I've been naughty today and abused that precious the way how do you post a video from youtube?x

Mike M said...

Actually, to add to the time discussion....time does not exist. Time is something man made. The fluctuation in time we see in space is the very proof of this. There is no standard. Their is no time. Only motion.

kimy said...

wow, great post. god I've missed that song. great song. and close to cosmic synchronicity october 13th was paul simon's birthday! didn't he and art write the song?

time heals. six months a blink. thinking of you. xx

lettuce said...

hhb - dragging feet is good. Rushing just makes the time go faster, don't you think?

ah, but if you had fun Jess, is it abuse? to post a video, copy the code from Youtube where it says "to embed the video" - and paste into your blogger post.

mike - i don't understand how that fluctuation in space thing works - but yes, it seems all to do with human perception really.

thanks kimy. Didn't realise it was the great man's birthday. Happy birthday PS.

Pod said...

as with your students, please never assume that i know what you are going about

Crafty Green Poet said...

Time is a strange one, not only how it passes but how perspectives on the past are different for different occasions. I've not worn a watch for years and have never missed it. There are always clocks in town, or the digital display on parking meters.