Time flies

I can hardly believe my final week at work is already upon me. It’s a cliché, I know, but time really does fly – not so sure about the ‘when you’re having fun’ bit, but hopefully that’s still to come. This time next week, quite possibly, as I recover from this weekend’s 16 mile Wholefoods run in style with a trip to the Big Apple to visit the girl I affectionately call my ‘spiritual twin’ (so named after the two weeks we spent helping each other  cling to our sanity in an ashram in southern India in 2011).

After the events of the past few weeks a holiday is just what the doctor ordered, and I’m very much looking forward to taking some time out to reflect on the imminent changes in my life (not to mention start tackling the enormous writing-related tomes I’ve purchased in preparation for going freelance). The plan, thus far, is to sip coffee, nibble (oh alright, scoff) cake, down wine and eat inordinately large amounts of CHEESE – with a bit of sightseeing and a LOT of nattering thrown into the mix to boot. In short, we’re going to set the world to rights one mouthful at a time and I cannot WAIT.

Because of all the recent changes in my own life it’s no surprise that I’ve been ruminating on the nature and importance of change as a life driver. Should we, I wonder, embrace it regularly as a way to rejuvenate ourselves, or should we rather seek out a more preferable state of equilibrium, in which we can be happy to see out the rest of our days?

At the moment I’m inclined to think the former, not least because of this article I remembered having read a few years back about how the brain perceives time. The article discusses the central concepts of a book, Making Time, written by Steve Taylor. In it, he claims that as we get older it seems as though time is speeding up, but that’s only because we fall into hum drum existences and get caught up in the same old cycle, day in, day out. If we seek out new experiences – for example by filling our weekends with trips to art galleries, coffee in kitsch new coffee houses and lunches and dinners in new locations with friends and family – then our perception of time actually changes and we view it as having passed more slowly than it actually did.

It could be argued that this is counter-intuitive, since the sensation of being bored often feel s as if it spans a lifetime, but if you stop to consider how fast the last five years have gone since you joined your current company you might begin to give credence to the idea.

As I’m no expert in how to live life, I’ll close with a quote from Steve Taylor’s book:

“Make sure your life is as full of new experiences as possible. If you live a life that’s full of routine, then time will always speed up but if you make an effort to travel to new environments and expose yourself to new situations, new challenges, even something simple like a new route to work, new interests, new hobbies, then this degree of newness slows down time.”

It seems a pretty compelling argument to me. Now where DID I put that passport….?

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I fell in love with this clock in the main square of Prague’s old town. It looks like a time machine!

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The path to dotage

It’s a depressing fact that my generation will be required to work well into what was, by previous generations, considered to be the dotage period of life. I for one am particularly aggrieved by this knowledge, because hand on heart I can’t say I have ever had a job that I have ‘loved.’ I’ve come close once or twice, but generally speaking ever since I left university I’ve been drifting from one job to another, each time hoping it would be the ‘dream job,’ each time being disappointed.

At times I have questioned whether the ‘dream job’ does, in fact, exist at all, but I believe for a lucky few it does. My best friend, for example, works long hours and is often dog tired, but she enjoys her job enormously and freely admits it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve only had one job that I could say I hated (with every fibre of my earthly being, but that’s another story that we won’t go into here). All the others have been good in some ways, but ultimately not fulfilling enough to stay. But maybe, as I say, such a phenomenon is rare, and those of us who aren’t blessed with the perfect job pairing in our lives should seek fulfilment elsewhere, through hobbies, volunteering and so forth.

One thing I have learned in the course of my ten year (has it really been that long?!) career is that it’s better to be too busy than too quiet. If you have to spend eight hours (and the rest) a day in a soulless, strip lit office, you may as well fill your hours as much as possible to make them go quicker. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING worse than being bored. And it’s just as well I feel that way, as this week most days I’ve  been in the office by 8am every day and haven’t seen daylight until gone 7pm, notching up an impressive 13+ hours of overtime.

Of course the downside of being rushed off your feet at work is that the days tend to just merge into one long round of waking before it’s light, commuting, frantically trying to plough through everything on the to do list, commuting back, eating, sleeping and getting up again.

But I shouldn’t complain. In the current financial climate I’m lucky to even HAVE a job, and the world of PR is a fickle beast – when I’m flat out busy it’s downright exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating when all the hard work of selling in a story pays dividends.

Nonetheless, I’d rather like to make my millions a la JK Rowling in the not too distant future, because the thought of spending the next 39 years with my nose to the grindstone, slogging my guts out for somebody else’s reward, just isn’t that appealing. And living in a beach hut in the Philippines, well, that really rather is…

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This photo was taken towards the end of my travels last year, whilst languishing on the private balcony of my friend’s 5* hotel room in Koh Tao, Thailand. I remember thinking as I lay there that my freedom was nearly at an end, and revelling in the twilight of what had been an amazing adventure. The book, The Beach, has always represented to me the ultimate freedom, a form of escapism (as reading itself is), and so when I look at this picture I feel somehow this is what I’m aspiring to get back to, if that makes any sense. It’s been a long week.