Monday, October 16, 2023

Time shift

The photo montage above is from a Facebook post I made October 16, 2022, something that turned up as a Facebook “Memory” today. That sort of thing happens all the time, and sometimes they spark memories or emotions, but today’s was different: I sparked a sudden realisation.

The subject of the original FB post is pretty ordinary—my project to move my VegePod raised garden bed—and I blogged about it at the time. That would’ve been interesting to me, though probably just in passing. Its importance was what came next.

When I saw that FB “Memory”, I had no idea that it was last year—though if I stopped to think about it, it would’ve been obvious. What was interesting to me was what’s changed: For the past four years, time has been pretty much incomprehensible to me, with events usually seeming to be far more recent than they really were. Thinking an event was longer ago than I thought is something different for me, and the second time it’s happened in a week.

This makes me feel like my perception of time is beginning to sync better with actual time, and it may be returning to normal misperceptions, where some things seem either more recent or more distant than they were, and not all in one direction. When Nigel died, it felt like time itself had stopped, and I seldom had any understanding/perception of time moving forward, and that’s been one of the main reasons literally everything has taken me so long to do: A day, week, month—even a year—all felt relatively equivalent to me.

I noticed recently that if I take on a new project, I’m far more likely to complete it in a realistic, more or less “normal”, timeframe. I think part of the reason for that is the personal organisation system I made for myself, because it helps me keep more focussed. It also feels like my perception of time itself is becoming more “normal”, too, and that could mean that I’m slipping back into real time, not the kind of fluid “limbo time” I’ve been existing in for the past four years. To me, this isn’t merely a good and useful thing (I gotta co-exist with people living in real time, after all), it’s also among the most hopeful things I’ve noticed in four years.

This is hopeful because it’s the first time I’ve noticed anything concrete that suggests I might be becoming “me” again. The truth is, I’ve missed “me” nearly as much as I’ve missed Nigel. I know I’ll never be the “me” I was with him, but whatever I’ll become can’t happen if I’m floating around detached from time itself.

Over the past four years, I’ve read a lot about grief and how it affects people, usually in the form of memoir. I don’t think anyone’s specifically mentioned feeling detached from time itself, but I now realise that they’ve all pretty much experienced it, even if they didn’t name it. Given the enormous disruptions to our lives that the death of an important person causes, it makes sense that this sort of disconnect could be a more or less universal—though individually perceived—phenomenon.

I have no idea whether this is a fluke or a change. There have been plenty of times over the past few years in which I incorrectly through change was imminent. But if this suggests a move back to being attached in time, it could be the most profound change yet.

Right now, though, I mainly think it’s interesting that I noticed what was a pretty subtle change. And, of course, I hope that it proves to me not subtle after all. Time, as they say, will tell.

No comments: