Your new relationship with time

Adriana Palanca
4 min readApr 13, 2020

I have never, in my life, heard so much talk about washing dishes.

When we could still roam free, the answer to “how was your day?” tended to be light on the details. Unless there was drama to unpack, a new idea to explore or a discovery to share, the conversation could safely move on to other things.

Now, heading into my fifth week of confinement, I find myself recounting (and listening to) detailed replies with great tenderness and interest. “I read my book, aired out the place, cleaned up my playlists, wiped down the doors of my kitchen cupboards, watched more of that Spanish series, made bread, napped, FaceTimed, tried to do an online Pilates class…”

The kind of minutiae that even my 80-year-old mother would shrivel away from.

But we have to quantify our time differently now. Stripped of the schedules that kept us in line — freed from the brag of just how busy we are — we have to find new ways to define our experience of time. The clocks have been unspooled and us along with it. Rather than focus on achievements and how we cheated time to get more done in the waking hours allotted to us, we have turned to new metrics. Small details have attained a more precious status. That list you roll out holds the key to your health, your sanity, your survival. Each previously-insignificant moment is now part of a precarious new pattern, one able to yield a remedy when the lens tightens. “Did I exercise today? Is that why I can’t sleep? Maybe meditation would help? That worked the last time.” And now that our usual landmarks have become meaningless, that list also creates anchors in an increasingly blurry week. The chronology of when they happened seemingly less important than the fact they happened at all. That list like a manifesto, I am still in this body, I am still doing things, I am still trying to generate meaning every day, I still have hope…

Our old world is gone, and so is our old relationship with time. This pandemic has separated us from the model of time we long-ago manufactured to give us the illusion of control. That reassuring sequence of tasks and displacements that tempered the fears that can haunt a body. This pandemic has forcibly (and thankfully) freed us from the oppression of past-present-future; it has pushed us to experience time as it actually operates…

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Adriana Palanca

Writer. Functionally weird. Justifiably feared. Inadvertently cool. She ✨ her.