Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Reluctant Millennial Tangles with Time


I have a problem with time. 

It is absolute, it defies tinkering, it is unyielding and impossible to escape or evade. 

And yet, people of all stripes are spinning their own temporal fantasies, relishing their second (or third) flushes of youth, exploring frighteningly early adulthoods, experiencing protracted adolescences, enjoying unprecedented longevity. 

Against all odds, the biggest one of them being reality, of course, we've managed to endow time with a sort of sociological subjectivity. Identify with the generational quirk or cultural current of your choice, and you get to speed time up or slow it down. Or, more accurately, you get to interpret time as having accelerated or stalled. 

It's all very confusing. 

The problem is, of course, that we experience time through age. And age no longer means what it used to mean. The conventional markers - college, post-graduation, first job, second job, marriage, home ownership, parenthood - are nowhere close to irrelevant, but they're all being relocated and reframed by the tidal wave of individual choice. 

How apt that we have witnessed the launch and evolution of Facebook's Timeline. We watch hundreds of personal trajectories unfold, moment by moment, marker by marker. Fodder for occasional delight, casual voyeurism and garden-variety jealousy and anxiety.   

It's absurd. You show up at the prescribed place and the prescribed time, on the verge of a chronological landmark, and find that the ground is still moving underneath your feet. 

It's liberating. You show up at the prescribed place and the prescribed time, on the verge of a chronological landmark, and find that most things - if not all - remain possible. 

We have the blessing of choice, and bear the burden of having no one to blame. It's a weighty contradiction to live with, and yet we do so, everyday. 

Perhaps that's the cosmic joke. We, this luckiest of generations, came of age a while back. We just didn't know it then. Do we know it now? 

No comments:

 
Creative Commons License
This work by ToruJ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.