We are making the most of the beautiful long mid-summer evening light here in Edinburgh. Yesterday at the end of our days duties I went for a spot of evening fishing with one of the other priests – we were fishing till 11pm and pulled in 13 mackerel. It was a wonderful evening and will live long in the memory. With so many of us leading busy lives it is important to use free time well. The psychologist Claudia Hammond has written a fascinating book, ‘Time Warped’, about how we perceive time . What I was struck about was her observations about the ‘Holiday Paradox’. The phenomenon seems to be that you go on holiday for two weeks, packed full of new experiences, new places, the days rush by. However when you get back it feels as though you have been away for ages. This has an interesting impact on how we use our spare time wisely. If you want your weekend to go slowly, pack it with new events and different activities but you will sacrifice rest. If you use the weekend to rest then paradoxically it will feel as though it has gone fast. How we spend our weekend is important for many of us – particularly if we feel stretched by our jobs….
We often forget that time is man made, what Kant referred to as ‘Epistemological Spectacles’. Time is the way we measure change, but instead of managing time, we often let time rule us. Reading Claudia Hammonds book is helped me to reflect on time perception. There is a very interesting passage about whether or not anxiety makes time pass more slowly or an incredible experiment by a young French man who chose to maroon himself in total darkness in an ice cave for two months. Telescoping is another interesting phenomenon in her book, referring to the curious way that we often think that significant historical events happened more recently that they did. For example – if I ask when did Princess Diana die? Most of us would give the wrong answer – because we would say a more recent year………. (it was 1997). This phenomenon is because of the illusion that the more clear a memory is then we think that it happened more recently.
As a result of this I hope to use my free time more wisely!