The Strange Concept of Time

The Strange Concept of Time

‘For the past couple of weeks the concept of time has been on my mind. May it be because temporal integration was part of my thesis process (= embracing the fact that we long for certainty, permanence, and immortality when – in reality – life is uncertain, constantly changing, and mortal) or because I recently jumped 7 time zones when flying from the US to Germany. It also might be because it is a time of the year in which we reflect on what has happened over the past 365 days and trying to anticipate what will happen in the next ones. It might be all of those or none, but it motivated me to look at my own current concept of time and how it has changed throughout the program.

The Melting Watch (1954) by Salvador Dali

When I think about it, my experience of time while going though the program and graduating from it reminds me of a car rolling down a hill and jumping off a cliff. This might sound extreme, but let me explain: When I started the program I actually had the feeling life was going extremely slowly. The first semester was so exhausting that I was wondering half way through if it would ever end. At that point I just couldn’t believe how slowly time seemed to pass. From there on, time seemed to run faster and faster. First semester: done! First winter break: over! Second semester: completed! Second summer, second year…and suddenly I was two weeks away from graduation! As stressful as it was and as quickly time seemed to pass, there was also something comforting about it. After all, the whole program gave my life a structure and there was a feeling of time moving forward in the direction of a goal/ end (GRADUATION). In the sense of my car metaphor: After slowly starting to roll it became faster and faster, heading towards the end of the cliff.

Now, heading towards a cliff sounds pretty frightening. And in a way, graduation had a frightening quality to it. After all, I didn’t know what would happen afterwards and I didn’t really had the time to think about it. But I also knew that it would be fine. So let’s not imagine a cliff, but something more like a ramp. In the style of this season: I was sledding down a snowy hill and there is a ramp, enabling me to fly weightless for a few moments before continuing my slide down to the bottom of the hill.



Technically, now would be the best time to show some amazing tricks. Being weightless gives one more flexibility to turn around or to make a handstand (or whatever tricks one can do). But there is also nothing that is guiding one anymore. It is easy to lose balance and it is harder to stay on track and keep moving forward in the direction one wants or one was planning on. THIS is how I feel about time right now. I am in this weird, weightless, transition state from structured, organized graduate school into an uncertain future. Without classes it seems much harder to keep up with time management (and I am usually great in managing my time). In addition, recent political changes in the US forced me to question if I want to remain in this country as an immigrant and as someone who sees empathic multicultural awareness as essential to the work of a therapist and (really) for being human. The future I had thought of for the past two years suddenly disappeared. It feels like somebody sneakily hit the pause button while I was in mid-air and changed the environment where I was supposed to land. Time seems to be moving forward, but it does not feel like I am, and somebody stole the sign for the finish line. Does this make sense?

Letting go of time ~

So what can I do with this awareness of my own concept of time? Obviously, I could try to change it and make it more “comfortable”: finding balance and orientation, setting goals, even playing with weight. But there is also part of me that wants to challenge myself and play with that weird feeling state I am currently in. Like I said, this state gives me the chance to be flexible and to do some tricks, so why not indulge in that? It takes courage to engage in something that appears uncomfortable and frightening, so that’s where I will start: finding my courage to try out some things and indulge in this uncomfortable flight, before landing and continuing my slide in whatever direction it will take me.