You may have noticed that out on the dance floor time seems to skip by, yet when you’re sitting in class (especially one you don’t like) it creeps ever so slow. In fact that’s how it seems a lot of our activities go; the more fun something is, it is over in an instant. Likewise, the more dreadfully boring an activity, the slower it takes for it to finish. I have always felt that with tedious activities (for me, math class), the minutes seem to take forever to pass. And then once again, the famous saying “Time flies by when you’re having fun” sticks out to me as well, because it’s technically true; three day music festivals seem like they were only one big concert smashed into a single day.
Is our enjoyment of activities supposed to feel like time has gone by extremely fast? Or is turtle speed the way to go? They say that time flies by when you’re having fun, but wouldn’t we theoretically want time to go by slower so we can appreciate the fun for a longer period?
And then I hear this new GZA song, Planetary Energy, where he says:
“Without Hip-Hop I’m like a fish out of water
Flapping instead of rapping and my days are shorter”
And then my whole world is kinda turned upside down. GZA’s a Hip-Hop artist, and an inGenius one at that. Obviously he is skilled, and he loves doing what he does. So when he talks about his days going by faster without Hip-Hop, it had me thinking; is time supposed to go slow when we are doing something we love, something we enjoy? To me, it seems like GZA is saying that a day is more gradual when he’s doing something he relishes, making music. And it kind of makes sense: if you’re doing something you love, wouldn’t you want more time to do it? Doesn’t time going slower mean you get to soak in an activity you like for a longer time, thus having more time to appreciate it? Does time actually go by faster and in a sense, waste away more quickly when our days are devoid of activities we love?
Let me reframe it this way: Does time just seem to go faster because we are simply busy, and not because we are savoring the moments? I won’t lie that many points in the 3-day festivals I attended went so fast because a lot of my time was spent just running from stage to stage, hurrying so I wouldn’t miss a favorite artist. A lot of significant time also goes to waiting in line for food or drinks or bathrooms. So about 70% of the time it went fast, because I was busy hustling from one side of the festival to another, or waiting in a 25 minute bathroom line. I think the times I most enjoyed myself were more like moments; an artist plays a particular song I love, and I jam out to it; I savor a street taco for a few minutes before it’s completely devoured; I crack up with my friends for a few minutes over something silly.
So let me posit this: maybe our time is supposed to move more lethargically when we are engaged in an activity we particularly like. For GZA, that means when he’s writing flows, he’s taking awhile to perfect them. A lot of times, perfection doesn’t just happen all at once. It reminds me of another saying that many artists of all mediums identify with: The process of creating is more rewarding than the outcome itself. When we are taking our time to perfect something, a skill or what have you, we are taking however long we need to do so. The avid writer doesn’t rush through lines when writing novels; they take their time doing it, so that it turns out good. But also because they love doing it; the fleeting moments of a euphoric rush when you get an idea, when you realize the road your story is paving, and you want to keep it going. Suddenly the process becomes an endless string of up and down moments: the rising action of a newly developed character, the falling action of being stuck in a (hopefully temporary) writer’s block. These moments can take hours because we are constantly trying to pick the one that speaks to us.
So I ask: Why rush something you love doing when you can let it gradually elevate your mood? We love rushing through a festival to fit in as many of our favorite artists we can see in a day, but are we cheating ourselves? I sometimes wonder if I would have been less tired and more fulfilled if I had just stuck to two or three artists in one day instead of seven. We have to learn the art of delayed gratification, gratification that comes in instances throughout a period of hours while we are sitting practicing piano concertos, or boxing combinations, or writing verses in for a flow. I know I need to start realizing that the stagnant periods and loss of words I get while writing also come with the periods of pure inspiration. Even writing this now, I am anxious to finish it. I wonder if the current culture we live in has influenced us to be so hasty in everything we do, to the point where we have forgotten how to take time to give more consideration to activities we love, whatever they may be. But that’s another story.