My life feels a lot like a zip file lately. A day used to have periods of intense work interspersed with periods of intense void. Now, any extra space that may exist is pulled out of my time—it’s kind of like the holes in Swiss cheese are pulled out and sold separately. But if you want Swiss cheese, you have to have those stupid holes. If you skip the holes, then it’s Jarlsberg. And I love Jarlsberg, but it’s not Swiss.
So like most other facets of my life these days, I get a lot of time perspective from my 1-year-old daughter. Her sense of time is so absolutely weird, I can’t even explain it to myself. It’s part tunnel vision, part memory loss, part hypermagical, but it’s always living in the NOW. I have to remind myself often that she is not purposely doing anything to alter her experience of time, because a lot of what children do feels manipulative to an adult. But I think that’s because so much of what we do with our time as adults is manipulative—to ourselves, and to the world around us. I mean, I’m a musician for Christ’s sake. My whole MO is to manipulate time and your perception of it. We’ve all procrastinated, right? I promise you, a 1-year-old does not have the capacity to rationalize at that level.
If you haven’t listened to Pet Sounds for awhile, just listen to one of those songs. Most of them are less than 3 minutes long (the longest track is 3:16), but they feel so much longer than the time it takes me to heat something up in the microwave for the same amount of time. I mean, “God Only Knows” really sends me on a journey, every time. Then again, try and actually sit through a commercial break these days. They might last only 6 or 7 minutes (MUCH longer than they used to be), but it feels like a hellish eternity.
Every day as a parent looks pretty much the same. There’s a routine that comes into play that I’ve never seen enacted by non-parents, not even the most disciplined controlling ones. It’s because this routine is dictated from an external source, and there’s really not much that you can do about it. Subtle changes come around as she grows and as her patterns change, and every once in a while a BIG change happens. Like now, she sleeps through the night. Oh my GOD that is beautiful. But no matter how long this last year felt—and it felt LONG—each day flies by so quickly I can hardly believe it.
So I’ve found myself surrendering to the push and pull of time. It’s a very unsettling feeling at first. It feels like giving up. I’m used to struggling against the wake of time to achieve what I want. No, this is something a little different. I feel like I’m working WITH time now, in whatever fashion it is presenting itself to me. It’s more Zen to me than the times I’ve tried Zen meditation. When it’s time to work, I’ve never worked harder. When it’s time to play, I’ve never played harder. When it’s time to do NOTHING—well, I’m working on that. I suck at doing nothing.