Feeling Time

Summer is a good time for daydreaming.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how time feels, how it loops and turns, how it slows down, hovers, advances, and then dissipates all at once. How dreamtime and waketime don’t seem so dissimilar to me; the way an event can be happening and not happening, up close, far away, with causal links ruptured and rearranged.

A friend of mine said to me the other day: I don’t know what 5 minutes feels like. This phrase hummed softly in my body like a clear, warm bell of truth, like one of those comforting low gongs that call you gently back into the eyes-open world after meditation. I don’t know what 5 minutes feels like either. When someone asks me how long it will take for me to do something, I give the answer that feels right, but the numbers correspond to an entirely interior world, no more translatable than my grapheme-color synesthesia, where the letter “e” is like a cornflower blue, but without reflecting rays of light. In this case color is an internal sensation “seen” by the interoceptive sweep of my mind’s eye. When passed over to the cataloging portion of the brain, the in-house librarian identifies this sensation and says: ah, yes, that sensation you are describing is “blue,” and we keep the articles on blue right over here.

I have always been like this. As a child I was often in a daydreaming state, which was both a source of amusement and frustration to my parents, who had to do things in worlds managed by clocks. I remember the repetition of the phrase “are you ready?”, that rising tone of impatient insistence that I focus and hurry up. I was always taking too long to get dressed, to go to the bathroom, to do my homework. I remember this experience most acutely at the dinner table –eating is something I’ve always needed to approach sideways– and the time it took me to finish a meal far exceeded everyone’s patience.

A highly sensitive child, I was acutely aware of the feelings and wishes of those around me, and often found my little self caught between my anxious desire to please through perfection, and my innate ways of being in time. I wanted to do it right, but at the same time resisted the idea that my natural rhythms were wrong. My interior world was always more real to me than the demands of the world outside my mind, and there was no case to be made that would convince me that there was an absolute when it came to how long it takes to print one’s name, put away a sock, or pick a stuffed animal for the car ride to grandma’s house.

These experiences make up the crossroads of our beliefs and behaviors: do I trust my innate ways of feeling, doing, and being, or do I externalize the authority to choose my path? I think what happened, in my case, is that I developed a semi-functional, adaptive way of handling time, never truly getting it, making overtures at “improving” while internally, and not-entirely-consciously, maintaining a lifelong protest against being clocked.

At the Herborium, our means of healing doesn’t exist in clock time. It happens in spirals of growth, as we learn to reconnect to those untouched layers of body-knowing that guide us through the next loop of growth. We don’t try to change the intuitive cultures of individual bodies, but rather we help to nourish the body to remember how to do what it innately knows how to do. Our approach is holistic, involving each person’s whole being, acknowledging the beliefs and experiences we carry and bear as bumps and marks upon the record-keeping organ of the skin. The ideas we hold about ourselves dictate the way we let our bodies speak and heal. Repairing our skin often means repairing a lost connection with ourselves by reaching into the self-awareness that is available to us at all times, giving our sense of inner knowing a voice and the power to make its own choices.

We all have to learn to live in the world, to be aware of the worlds contained within other people, and the cultures of time they hold. If I only lived in my interior world, I would be very lonely and lacking the richness that comes from the amazingly different ways that people have of being here (and now). I think, when we learn to live holistically, truthfully, nourishing ourselves and our rhythms, we can reach a place where we honor ourselves and at the same time honor the often startling differences in others without feeling threatened, or like we have to sacrifice or choose one over the other. So, take 5 minutes to nurture yourself and see how it feels. And then tell me what it’s like, because I still don’t really know.

Illustration and writing by Krista Dragomer

Krista Dragomer is an Ohio-born mixed media artist living and working in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Her work can be seen at www.kristadragomer.com