Unnecessary but Attractive

Using standard, generally agreed measures, Time is consistent. It passes at the same rate from moment to moment and from millennia to millennia. So, if it is not Time that changes, what causes our (my, at least) experience of Time to vary so dramatically? Why does summer seem to speed along, while winter crawls like molasses? Why do the few hours before daybreak race by, yet the hours after sunrise can seem so plodding?

Though the number of possible reasons is enormous, from my perspective, only a few explanations seem likely. First, I think positive experiences must cause biochemical reactions in our bodies; akin to flooding our brains with dopamine, perhaps. Our bodies’ responses to those biochemical floods are brief; joy is a fleeting emotion. But negative experiences trigger biochemical floods of a different sort—and those are like waves of physical or mental pain, or both, that unfold in slow motion. Depressive misery lingers. These explanations are pure supposition. I have no evidential basis for the theory. But there is no question that SOMETHING alters a person’s experience of Time. Is that “something” external to us or is it internal? Perhaps it is both, but I attribute the bulk of the variation to our individual psyches. But, wait. Is it possible that I, alone, experience these vastly different situations with respect to Time? Are my sensations indicative of a certain kind of mental deviation from the norm? I doubt it. But anything is possible. Anything. Even that which seems impossible can be accomplished. With enough energy  and effort—or treachery—magic can replace reality.


One person’s joy can be another’s tragedy or trauma. That fact, alone, expresses the incomprehensible complexity of human experience. For example, consider two un-married (to each other) people involved in an extramarital affair with one another, who find joy in the relationship. But their respective spouses, when the affair is revealed, might feel as though tragedy had befallen them. The experience that triggers the competing emotions is the same; but the ways in which the people affected by the experience differ enormously. Taking examples to a different level, consider the person who commands a drone to fire a missile at an enemy target; she may react joyously as the missile successfully finds its target. But the survivors of the missile strike, bloodied and broken and surrounded by dead victims, see the experience through different eyes.  These are extreme exceptions to routine experience, of course, but the exceptions best illustrate how deviations from “normal” can be experienced in such different ways.


I wonder…at what point does the friendship between two people become so close that either or both friends would share almost all their secrets? Is that closeness reserved for long-time life-mates…spouses or domestic partners/romantic pairs? Or does that level of trust grow between platonic friends, as well? Or is that level of closeness and trust an illusion? Trust, I think, is the key to the answer; if, indeed, there is a single answer. Perhaps the answer is far more complex than the question, which in itself is far more complex than it might appear. Thinking about such things may be a pointless exercise, but…pointlessness has its utility.


People have different kinds of curiosity. Perhaps not different kinds of curiosity…different objects of curiosity. And the degree to which one is curios differs from person to person. Scientific researchers who explore life in the deepest part of the world’s oceans, for example, probably are far more curious about deep-sea life than I, but I believe I am extremely curious about ocean life. Yet my “extreme” curiosity pales in comparison to people whose ever working/waking hour is dedicated to satisfying their curiosity. Those researchers, though, may be curious about human emotions, but my curiosity about emotions might be orders of magnitude stronger. Curious, eh?


I spent a while this morning scanning articles in The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and a few other online newspapers. Though reading non-USA publications does not necessarily make me more aware of important international matters than if I limited my reading to domestic news sources, I do learn stuff I might otherwise not know. For example, I was delighted to learn that the world’s first second-hand-store-in-an-airport has opened at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Yet my attempts to learn such stuff sometimes get derailed. For example, when I tried to learn more about the Mississauga city council’s plan to reconsider a ban on cannabis retail stores, I was stopped short; if I wanted to know more, I would have had to pay for the privilege. And it would have been a privilege; but I am unwilling to pay for that particular privilege.


Yesterday afternoon was lovely. I would like to replicate it regularly. Perhaps this morning is not too soon.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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