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Making Up for Lost Time


The rabid mania that has seized the world of investables has gotten so much ink lately that I thought I’d explore an equally curious phenomenon with a far greater impact on our daily lives. Have you noticed how time seems to have taken wing during the pandemic?  Each Friday follows the last so quickly that, speaking as a man in his 70s who is rounding the final turn, I struggle to invent ways to keep the months and years from slipping away with equally alarming speed. I have a possible solution, one that could work for you as well that I will tell you about it in a moment.

But first let me ask whether you’ve experienced the same thing yourselves. For me, the speed-up of time started to become unsettling when the interval between haircuts seemed to grow shorter and shorter. I typically let six weeks go by, but lately my hair has started to look pretty shaggy after only a few weeks. Or so it seemed. When I started recording the date of my last clip-job on an Outlook calendar, I discovered that what had felt like a mere three or four weeks since my last haircut was actually closer to the normal six weeks.

Too Much Urology

The same seeming compression of time has occurred in other areas of my life. Dental appointments spaced at four months have begun to feel as though they are popping up twice as often. Biannual visits to my urologist now stare me in the face seemingly every time I flip the calendar. I can hardly keep up with Outlook reminders to send out birthday cards, and yearly payments for life insurance, long-term care coverage and golf-club membership are coming due relentlessly.

What could account for this feeling that time is accelerating? Thomas Mann’s opus The Magic Mountain offers a profoundly insightful answer. The relevant chapter is called Excursus on the Sense of Time, and it so lucidly illuminates how we experience the passage of time that I have republished a key excerpt here several times over the years. In the Excursus chapter, Nobelist Mann is the poet-philosopher’s Einstein, a supremely gifted writer at the height of his literary powers. He likely would have viewed the shift toward pandemic-induced sameness in our days as potentially harmful to the human psyche. Indeed, the threat of contagion has severely limited the scope of our daily activities, producing monotony. As to its harmful effects and the ways in which it has altered our perception of time as we experience it, I will quote Mann at length, since no summary could do justice to the luminous truth of his observations. The passage is from H.T. Lowe Porter’s translation, in a Knopf edition, of Der Zauberberg:

The Tempo of Monotony

Many false conceptions are held concerning the nature of tedium.  In general it is thought that the interestingness and novelty of the time-content are what “make the time pass”; that is to say, shorten it; whereas monotony and emptiness check and restrain its flow.  This is only true with reservations. Vacuity, monotony, have, indeed, the property of lingering out the movement and the hour and of making them tiresome.  But they are capable of contracting and dissipating the larger, the very large time-units. to the point of reducing them to nothing at all. And conversely, a full and interesting content can put wings to the hour and the day; yet it will lend to the general passage of time a weightiness, a breadth and solidity which cause the eventual years to flow far more slowly than those poor, bare empty ones over which the wind passes and they are gone. Thus what we call tedium is rather an abnormal shortening of time consequent upon monotony. Great spaces of time passed in unbroken uniformity tend to shrink together in a way to make the heart stop beating for fear; when one day is like all the others, then they are all like one; complete uniformity would make the longest life seem short, and as though it had stolen away from us unawares.  Habituation is a falling asleep or fatiguing of the sense of time; which explains why young years pass slowly, while later life flings itself faster and faster upon its course. We are aware that the intercalation of periods of change and novelty is the only means by which we can refresh our sense of time, strengthen, retard and rejuvenate it, and therewith renew our perception of life itself. Such is the purpose of our changes of air and scene, of all our sojourns at cures and bathing resorts; it is the secret of the healing power of change and incident.

Using Your Yard Creatively

So how can we “rejuvenate our sense of time” as the pandemic’s grip on our daily lives begins to loosen? Enjoying the outdoors has been an obvious answer all along, but other avenues are beginning to open up as more people get vaccinated. My idea –something you or anyone else can do — is to produce a backyard concert with a neighbor. Friends of mine in Boulder have been doing this for years, but the pandemic put a temporary halt to it. With spring approaching, however, it’s a perfect time to revive this kind of low-key entertainment. Musicians are hungry for work, and their fans are more eager than ever to hear them “live”. Because musical talent is so underpriced, you can hire the very best in the world at an affordable price, especially by passing the hat at the end of the show.

To inspire you, here are links to YouTube videos of three favorites of mine whose music I’ve enjoyed in intimate settings, including the basement of a friend’s home: percussionist Rony Barrak; blues harp player Mark Ford; accordionist Alicia Baker and pianist Joanne Brackeen. Each is as talented as anyone you have ever heard in a large concert hall, and all it would take to hire any one of them is a phone call to their agent or the local musician’s union.  Live theater, dance and chamber music are just as affordable and available for the asking. Call a local or regional repertory theatre to get things rolling for a great summer’s night in your own back yard. They’ll be thrilled to hear from you.

  • Farmer March 17, 2021, 8:43 pm

    Thanks Rick, this was one of the best thought pieces I have read in awhile and its even more interesting to me because nobody else has yet articulated this strange phenomenon of time compression brought about by a single major, repetitive news event. I have been noticing the same thing but never put words too it.

    This one big story about a virus has so captivated our daily routines that is has squeezed the very blood out of every other facet of our daily lives. But its not just the one story, its the literal avalanche of variations and daily changes, surprises and updates to the narrative that seems to fill out the saga such that it continues to get nearly exclusive focus and in the process dim the lights on everything else that used to matter.

    Lunch never tastes quite the same anymore. Sports seem more infantile and irrelevant than usual. Casual reading is impossible with the daily background din of emergency sirens chronically squealing and drowning out our ability to concentrate normally. And as a result, time itself feels like its being altered because variety is gone and been replaced by the equivalent of an incessant, demanding, chanting, monologue that is impossible to ignore unless we just turn off all the media in our lives.

    Even then its not gone for long. It is suffocating and repulsive how obsessive it makes some people while altering our social discourse to the level of lesser life forms while deadening our usually acute senses of discernment. We have gone from days of feeling enlightened with energy and growth to simpering like animals in cage and in the process lost confidence in the future. And the passage of time, as one outcome, feels like its shortening our lives through compression as one sorry day bleeds into another without relief.

    The worst part is the news never gets any better. Only worse day after day. So I suspect we are much like a prisoner condemned to a long life sentence or a castaway on a deserted island who marks off his days on the calendar waiting for salvation and whose only way of keeping track of the lost time is to make those little stick marks on his prison walls.


    This is brilliant! Thanks for completing my essay so insightfully. RA

  • Robert March 15, 2021, 1:34 pm

    Remember the 2012 big deal with the Nostradamus end of the world predictions and all this? Well, it was not the end of a cosmic cycle and the beginning of a new one were consciousness expansion is favorable. Since 2012 humanity has been under a new cycle of consciousness expansion and evolution into higher vibrations including cosmic rays (gamma rays) from the central sun of our galaxy. And since a lot of things are happening at the same time, our perception of time changes, and times appears to go faster. I say appear because in reality there is no time. Time is a human concept. In reality it’s more about causes and effects then time. Time is an illusion. The expansion of consciousness is an opportunity to free your Spirit from the limiting beliefs that enchain humanity to this ridiculous $lavery system we have been indoctrinated to accept and consent to. If you follow the Universal law, then there is no need for men made laws. These men made laws are only set in place to allow the 1% to keep the power and control over the cattle population. Keep the masses entertain with weapon of mass distraction and busy to survive so they do not realize they live in a farm working for the farmers 1%. All the fear psyop are created to keep people afraid in lower vibration mode to limit the expansion of consciousness and awareness to the reality of existence.

    In reality we are all Divine sparks of the One Light. We are a omnipotent, omniscient beings of light that can manifest anything they want as we free our Spirit. And that’s what they are afraid of. That we realize this and that we no longer recognize their false authority over us. That’s why they do lockdowns, false New Age psyop counter information or beliefs. They want people to stay enslaved and afraid. Enslave by the false beliefs system that enchain the Spirit. But it’s too late. People are waking up and are freeing themselves and are standing up to this matrix system. And the so called science and phony studies are one way to limit your beliefs. It has been proven many time that the scientific observer by simply observing an experiment can affect the results because matter change just because your consciousness is putting your attention to it. Those who seek light elements find light elements and those who look for quantum light waves find quantum light wave. We can create the reality we want by simply putting our attention into a desired outcome. That’s why the spend so much effort on the propaganda to direct you creation power to the desire outcome they want. People just repeat what the hear and see, because most of them want to be part of the group. I know it might sound lit whoo whoo stuff, but it’s true. A few movies to watch: “Lucy” by Luce Besson, the matrix and this wonderful series: Inner world outer world.

    The only time is Now. Every morning you are born again. What you do today is what matters most. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not there yet. So being anxious about the future put your creative Life-Fore energy in feeding false beliefs and outcome that might not even come to fruition. So enjoy the Now as much as you can.
    The climate change propaganda aka global warming has been running for decades to make you believe in it. Yet it’s all busted with just a few charts of real temperature over time. The universe works in cycles not fear based linear projections. And non one is even talking about the increase in geothermic energy create by the earth’s core. Even the farmer have noticed it. Carbon emission due to human activity only represent less than 1% of all emissions. The 99% comes from the sea and the forest. And it has happen before when human were not even here. It works in cycle guys! The climate change propaganda is another excuse to raise taxes to and limit your liberties. And they make you believe it’s for the good of the planet! What a joke. Don’t believe me? Check the today’s news on zerohedge.
    We all have to make an effort to educate ourselves and stop eating the propaganda porridge the mass medias.

    These videos show how the heard mentality in part of the human psyche and how people are still afraid to stray from the heard majority even it’s stupid. Why? Because when were cavemen we needed to be a part of a group to survive to hunt, stay warm and protect each other. If you were alone then you’d die. But that’s no longer the case, and yet people submit to the most stupid things. Check these videos:

  • Gregg March 15, 2021, 9:52 am

    The excellent Lucy Worsley [UK history TV presenter & Curator of The Royal Collection.] interviewed a youthful looking Sir Roy Strong aged 80 in 2015. [He is is still going ‘strong’ if you pardon the pun.] Sir Roy was still actively engaged as director of museums such as the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London amongst many others. Lucy’s question to him was, “How do you still manage the enthusiasm & energy to keep your busy life going at your age.” His reply was, “The #1 thing to do as you get old is to mix with & surround yourself with young people so you can feed off their energy.” He is right. At age 68 I easily accomplished this is in coffee shops in Northern Colorado until the lockdowns. The last year has been a year of lethargy. I found that on the occasional visit to a coffee shop the young people were not there any more [Kids at home etc.] but the old fogies I knew were there & it was extremely difficult to hide from them. [They’re probably saying the same about me.] I am about to retire back to London & will be mixing the young people there post pandemic. You can’t say I haven’t warned them in advance.

  • cbdawgs March 15, 2021, 6:28 am

    In my neighborhood we had a progressive St. Patrick’s day celebration. At the first house, we had apps, second house(mine) was corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and Irish soda bread and lastly the sugary desserts. Each home used fire pits and outdoor porches,yards,ect.. all within walking distances. Thoroughly enjoyed by all!

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