On Pieces of Time Passing Through Our Minds, or The Possibilities of Our Beings

(Kiki Smith)

Our ideas and their homes — our intellects — are so naturally malleable and elastic that our shifts of opinion (the ones considered less important) are almost unnoticed. I spent a good part of my adolescence criticizing self-help books, today I fully understand the role and importance of this type of literature, and it was an extremely natural change of vision, because I never really showed disgust for the genre, I just didn’t see and didn’t need (or so I thought) to read books that I considered to be an arrogant writing for trying to teach me how to act in my own life. Finally, I grew up and learned about the latent urgency of getting rid of all sorts of prejudices, seeing the appeal of such literature and the reality in which I already lived and simply didn’t realize: books have always taught me how to be, how to exist, I just avoided those who do it directly. I opened the doors for yet another son in my heart — a bibliophile who refuses to read any literary genre is absurdly cruel to himself, he is the ravenous who refuses a feast.

Something similar happened to my opinion about the time management addiction that modern man has. You see, I know that it’s extremely important to know ways of making our passage on this planet last longer — or rather, to have been worth its duration, but I also know that the more we try to manage something “unmanageable”, the more we lose this something. In other words — I feel that the more we worry about the time we have, the more we lose this same time by counting it, calculating it. We become real slaves of time, and this is so absurdly paradoxical, considering that we ourselves are the creators of our distractions… And when did we begin to see distractions as a waste of time? In my mental illustration of the conception of time, it is inseparable from my idea of ​​”existence.” Yes, of course they are, Poli. What I’m saying is that when I think of the time I have, I think of the value of my existence. Without abandoning the Heideggerian merit of my conceptions of being and time, what I do is to question the extent of the “I am” as time passes — what have I done in this passage of time that collaborates directly to my own formation? And what have I done in this passage of time that collaborates directly to the eradication of my egocentrism as a being that exists and thinks? And, even more importantly, why do I have to be more than I already am, and why, in the end, is this really the main goal of being here and trying to extend our existence — being more and being better than we already are?

I just ask the questions and pretend to have the answers, because I’m not ready to show off my craziness. I confess, however, that I no longer try to hide it too.

I know people who are completely dedicated to managing their times, they are extremely productive, and they achieved every possible and desirable success. I know people who try to be like that and they are real failures (in the sense that they are what some self-help books conceptualize as “failure”). I know people who don’t care about time and live in the midst of an endless disorder, they don’t go forward and achieve nothing — they only exist. And recently, finally, I met a person who doesn’t believe in time management, and yet he can do everything he wants and more. I think my rejection with self-help books originated in the idea that we are different in our equalities. Some people work better during the day, others prefer the silence of the night, and others simply don’t work at all. The dictated self-help can’t be universal. I agree that love is probably the only universal mechanism to help us in helping each other, inter and externally, but what counts is, after all, the intention. And the intention of every book, when good, makes it worth reading.

I wanted to be able to spend all day in my bed, doing nothing, and without having a self-guilt massacring me internally at night. I blame myself because that photograph of that child studying under the illumination of a street lamp is glued to my mind and passes before my eyes as I sit here in an old, broken chair under the light of my room writing this simple essay on an equally old notebook, outdated for technological language. At least I have internet access and a bed to go back to, just to see this cycle of guilt reset itself. I’m grateful for the little that I have, I want to have more, I blame myself for my ambition and I blame the system that sometimes makes me believe that I’ll never achieve my goals, and sometimes makes me think that my ambition will lead me directly to hell. Here comes my newly discovered love for self-help books: they tell me to move on without looking back.

We don’t have powers over time, we have relative power over our existences, no matter how long they last. What we can do, then, is try (just try) to exercise some control over our minds, because this control is confused with our strengths, but it is, at the end of the day, when we lose ourselves in dreams for a few hours, the only thing we really have.