Eastern Colorado. Dropped down from Denver, put on cruise control, and set the tiller for the Delaware Water Gap. Pulled up in front of a set of gas pumps five hours and 400 miles later. I don’t remember having driven this far. How did I get here? Was I even conscious? I made the drive cold sober except for a little black coffee. Still, I can’t remember having put in those miles.
Clearly, I had been conscious. Quod erat demonstrandum, I arrived safely at the pumps. My driving responses were so fully automatized and the ride so uneventful, nothing got saved to my storage and retrieval device –wetware version. I couldn’t reliably testify in court that I’d make the trip.
This set of unmemorable hours is memorable because of the dissonance of having operated a piece of heavy machinery at high speed without its having left a trace. However, that’s how most of our days go by. Except for a rare number of people, most of us go through our days conscious but without evidence of having been so. We have artifacts of our activities. This post for example. But we often don’t feel accomplished. Or we’re left wondering why we did this instead of that.
To be fully present to time, we need to make ourselves conscious of its three cognitive states available to us as humans. There’s time in the future, that we can imagine, plan for, assign probabilities to. For example, I made notes last night imagining what I would want to write today. I imagined you, gentle reader: what would you find engaging?
There’s the moment, I am typing letters to form words to create meaning. I am endeavoring to connect with you, dear reader, across time and space. Hi.
And there is time past, how well did I spend that time. Did I complete my writing assignment on time? What did I forgo to write this? Did I meet my expectations? Did you, my readers, respond favorably? Did I use my time to its best purpose. Or did I strut and fret my hour upon the stage to be heard no more?
We haven’t fully engaged our time until we’ve experience it thrice thus. Use this worksheet for your next small journey. You’ll make it memorable.