Measuring Time Against Action

Our increments of time hedge philosophy. We witness credible evidence of effect but the measurement of our experience is an instrument, the mechanical clock and internal clock alike. My birthday is a few weeks before the Gregorian calendar’s New Years Day, so my gauge of a year’s time is fairly traditional though I’m motivated by the symbol of my birth rather than the remnants of Greek ancient religion. For many people (including those who follow the same calendar) there’s no internal or external reason to celebrate renewal or resolution at the end of December.

[CW: brief mention of assault]

Sensory awareness of time is the least credible but most accurate measure of individual experience— it defies scientific empirical knowledge, a minute can feel like an hour, but in philosophical terms ‘empirical’ refers to experience just as in science it refers to the ability to experience a fact. A scientist may observe an hour pass on a clock but philosophical empiricism may state that the sensory experience, regardless of if it defies the external instrument, is the true knowledge gained from time. 

A year may not feel like a year, New Years may not be a relevant marker of time passing, so we measure time against action. 

I feel my actions aligning to a timeline projection— instinctively I’m aware of my capabilities, routine and ritual of the seasons, and the timeline already laid before me, and when large goals appear to me they find themselves always attaching to the birthday after the next. My measurement of action against time and vice versa determines that I need a full year for the active progression toward a goal (historically, with success). As my age increases at the same rate of the calendar year, my incremental experience of 365 days has attached to my birthday.

Only in recent years have I focused more on my birthday than August, which has prior been my signifier of passing time, counting incrementally since an early childhood assault. It was a different kind of birthday, a different New Years Day. 

Many people don’t require a yearly milestone and simply adapt resolution to an ongoing experience of time. They are often people who have healed the inherent trauma of being bound to time (along with other traumas). This way feels unattainable yet it’s the most natural experience of living, the seasons hold their own measurement and action but don’t compare them to each other, instead they exist in cooperation. New problems and solutions arise in a continuous flow of learning.

Compartmentalizing and backlogging this natural flow is problematic but also a learnt instinct. The various factors which build our life also create a system which we navigate through and often we simply can’t start every goal as they come to us. We’re too busy navigating. Forgiving myself and the systems I’ve created allows me to look outside and fully exist within my sensory awareness of living: who I am, in the moment, with all facts which I can actually experience in that moment. I cannot usually forgive myself, but I’m learning.

For now, I can look to the future and decide by the time I’m thirty, giving up yearly resolutions will be my goal. Finding reason and conviction within the everyday tasks I’m presented with doesn’t require a compiled list, but having spent my entire life aimless and suicidal, I’m grateful I have any motivation at all. 

Renewal is a gift we may accept at any time from anything for any reason. Gratitude is a facilitator of renewal, and I’m thankful for my willingness to change and my accomplishments throughout this entire process. 

Measuring time against action isn’t a sin. It’s productive, it’s proactive, it may be warped by the problems within the constructs but humans need motivation and playing psychological mind games with ourselves is unfortunately a part of recovery. All hindrances can be power. Negativity attaches to what we value, what we care about, what matters to us: when I hear my inner voice say, ‘look back, look at the past year, you’ve barely done anything’, I’m reminded that the progress of time is important to me and can use this power to not only recall what I have done, but look forward. I can reply, ‘look ahead, look what I’ve set up for myself, all the potential’.

This is part of disengaging from the warped measuring of time against action. We can make the most of any tool given to us as long as we’re mindful of its faults and dangers, how it could hurt us if used recklessly.

I’m young and in the process of growing up, I still try to reach for the instruction manual every time and I likely always will but I feel myself learning to trust my instincts. Philosophy has never been nor will ever truly be that manual, I’ve never found any worthy answers, only worthy questions. 

My instincts are what remind me to trust my feelings and be curious about the science behind them. Tonight, I will think about my relationship to measurement and how my neurology (autism and otherwise) could become less dependent.

Happy New Year, may you feel reborn each day of it.

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