Time Is Everything

It determines more about your life than anything except money, and obviously “time” and “money” give each other meaning, value, and possibility.

by Kate Carraway; illustrated by Lia Kantrowitz
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Mar 21 2019, 2:31pm

This week: “time,” like [she inhales, holds it in, looks skyward as if to call upon the generous, knowing gods of talking shit in parking lots], how time is kind of everything. It’s arithmetic (or, at least, “chronos” time, which is regular, linear time), and metaphysical (that’s “kairos” time, or the time of “timing,” the right moment, an opportunity). It determines more about your life than anything except money, probably, and obviously “time” and “money” (and their triplet “energy”) give each other meaning, and value, and possibility. And, it’s moral, because every time choice is a life choice; what you do every day is what you do with your whole life; right right right right right.

I think the only thing I’ve enthusiastically described as “a sin”—espesh as a Protestant, never lapsed because there was nothing much to lapse from—is misspent time. Not “wasted” time, because watching time burn after the Diptyque candle on your self-care altar catches the dry corner of an hour or a day can be the most luxurious pointlessness (a pillow-topped nihilism, a rarefied moment of sanctioned privilege-bukakki), and not dumbtime, like peeing and cleaning and grooming (the reason we made skincare into church is because skincare was so boring), but misspent, like scrolling, like monkey-minding, like doing everything you can to get away from the wildflowering part of yourself, and from the moment, so, from time.

Oh, also: a year is actually 365.24 days. I know you know, but isn’t it kind of cute, how time has its own secrets?

NOW

Free time, or some institutional version of essential idleness, for you and me and us and now, is lost and gone, efficiently sucked away by and into someone else’s supermassive black hole. We have been socioeconomically Shrinky Dinked.

There are a few overarching and interconnected factors at play and we know them all by heart already, because the facts are reiterated again and again, sometimes by me, but let’s spin the big wheel: the gig economy; low wages; no job security; no benefits; student debt; rising costs of living; disinterest in established social and domestic norms; diminished IRL and spiritual and social communities; delayed and declining rates of family-making; the isolation and over-arousal and attention strip-mining created and encouraged by the internet, smartphones, texting, social media. Probably more urbanization, too, but I can’t keep track of everything, I’m just a little mouse!

So. The current generation of the young and young-ish, the Beautiful and the Damned, are expected to do more work than ever (and faster than ever) for less money than ever, and, are told we’re having brat attacks for objecting to any of it, even though all of it is objectionable. (Objectively! You think a Boomer-nightmare guy would read a job listing that included the phrase “full-time freelance” and not laugh so hard his dick swung around in a full circle? Non.)

Everyone says they love scams—loving scams is the whole spirit of the right-now internet—but we are living one, and honestly I can’t tell if we care?

NOW PART TWO: THE NOWENING

“Now” is always the best time to do anything. If someone tries to set a meeting or hang out or show you something, do it right now. Only like 5% of anything can’t be done right now.

A close second is “today.”

LYING

If there is anything that differentiates what occupies me from what occupies someone else, it’s that I’m super-interested in what people lie about. Like, behavioral lies, like, what people say they want, and need, and do, versus what people actually want, and need, and do. Lies are exciting because they’re always about shame.

(And, fun fact, shame is the Badlands of the “Indulgence Internet,” which is the part of the dominant online experience that soothes and approves almost every turn of our drives and desires and failures, but without any equivalent critical apparatus. As an externalized and collective brain, Instagram is wild).

That’s why I’m so into “time,” and not because I’m a poet or mystic or other practitioner of the nostalgic arts: there’s just so much lying about it. It’s almost automatic, the way people claim one thing—they want X!—and then immediately do another thing, a counteracting-thing, an opposition of that want. You know that line, like, “follow the money” to get to the bottom of some corporate scandal? With people, it’s like, “follow the time,” what the calendar says and then what they actually do; what they say they’ve been doing all day, and then what they did. Time determines how we spend our lives, and spending it is where our values become dust. It’s great!

OTHER PEOPLE

I do this game where I’ll think about something I was doing, like: okay, so I was in Vancouver, the time I lost a diamond earring in the anarchist bookstore, staying with my ex-boyfriend for some reason? And walked around a lot and ate and saw my one friend who is a doctor and one who is a lawyer and one who was crusty and one who was a waiter, and some other ones, all of this love, people-dots dancing alone in an uncomfortable socioeconomic scatter plot, and I think I was just boing-boing-ing around, wondering if I really had the vig to live like this, and be like this, forever, officially, of nothing and of nowhere, not so much in the middle of different worlds but a little bit in all of them, and also wondering, what does that do to a person? And to a woman, especially? And what if identity is just the corniest kind of construct anyway, that ends up being about shopping? (TWIST, it is!)

And then I’ll think about someone I know, knew, who stayed in our hometown, got a straight job, and continued being so, ehmmm, normal, and was, it sure seemed like, done partying and non-resort-traveling and experiencing anything unexpected or unsanctioned by then.

(Which is, honestly, fine; I’m not legally allowed to dunk on someone who apparently knew enough about what they wanted to do, and did it, without first spending ten years fucking thinking about it.)

And/BUT, I’ll wonder what they were doing that week I was in Vancouver, and what they’ve been doing the whole time since. Like you can only have so many “girls’ nights”! You can only watch so much TV. What have they been up to? I will argue every side of what kind of life is “best” or “good” but first I need some data.

OBJECTIVE

My ideal scenario is that I’m using time so specifically, so brilliantly, so epically, that I’m not aware of it, or its individual oscillations. Like, time and its measurement would only be an invisible tool, to accommodate everything I wanted to do in a day, PLUS, you know, frequent intervals of easy, restorative, quotidian, spontaneous magick of some kind (dealer’s choice, but, some untethered use of your youth, some reconsideration of a stuck thing, some confession that blood-blisters your vulnerability, some lion-heartedness, some acknowledgement of the memento mori that is your human body.)

Right now what I do is: I write down what I’m doing, in 30-minute slots. What I want to do is not that, to not need to monitor myself so constantly. Like five minutes ago I was supposed to be writing this but instead I listened to “Cookie Puss” and thought hard about whether or not anyone still makes prank calls, and also right now I’m pretty tired and feel like all of my little minutes are both accounted for and lost, and I’m at sea, bobbing around with unread library books and old, wilty celery, a warm mist rising.

The upside of being outside of a routine is that you’re at least thinking new thinks every day. The downside is that, while a routine should slow time down, because you’re not managing this undulating chaos, it doesn’t, it’s the opposite. If you don’t pack your life as tightly as a go-bag it just stops and rotates around itself.

“SOMETIMES”

I think we use “sometimes” so much because it’s a good way to get near something you don’t want to look at directly. That Andy Warhol line, about how you should do something every day, or just once, is good. “Sometimes” is a warning.

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