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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Law of Cosmic Laziness


Before I was in seventh grade--the year I began to awaken to an alarm clock--time seemed to literally be slower. Everything was slow. The minute, the hour, the day, the week, the year. Time was like soup, oatmeal, or Cream of Wheat--thick and hearty. Time took effort to get through, the hours of every day piling into a mountain I felt I had to push. A weekend day was like a lifetime, the events occurring with eons of space between them. Breakfast. Chores. Lunch. Play. Television. Dinner.

Summer felt like ten years, the days hot and gooey.

Then, all at once, time went on a diet, slipping out under my bedroom door like a river, pulling me into a day that never seemed to stop. The next thing I knew, I was the mother of two children. Then a teacher. And here I am, now, writing to you about 40 years later.
I like the theory of general relativity, the idea that time and the experience of it is relative to the space it "occurs" in. I am no science major and the only scientific experiments I conduct are in the kitchen, but I like this notion. I can't really explain it to you better than that (it involves the curvature of space-time and gravity, and if I write longer about those things, I will begin to quote from Star Trek), but it know that someone else's childhood, a person born in 1961 like me, might have taken first breath and then zipped through to adulthood faster than I did. Or my slow childhood was like a race track compared to someone else's.

But now, time is like a Boeing 767 over Canada, headed for Rome. Whoosh, it's gone. Where is it going? Who knows? I'm scared that I will look up from typing and find myself an 80-year-old woman, and I won't have even finished my coffee. I want to cherish even the icky moments these days, and it's so easy to wish them away. Even the "bad" moments are our moments, the moments that we have. Enjoy their badness, I guess. Or at least pay attention.

One element of the theory of general relativity that I like is called "the law of cosmic laziness." This law suggests that bodies left to themselves take as long as they can to their destination.

We so often are not left to ourselves, demands and people pulling us through time faster than we want. Maybe this law comes into force on a vacation, when one is bobbing, say, in the emerald green water off of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. No wonder I go there each year, a place where time does stand still, at least in long, hot, sandy chunks.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan

1 comment:

mammakim said...

Oh I hear you. I think I started feeling it when my daughter graduated from High school last year. Now I feel like the next one will be in two years and it is going to go fast. I want to cherish the years with them as much as I can