The best part of taking a long drive in Nova Scotia is not only the scenery but also the time it gives to listen to the radio, CBC of course. As I was driving to Lunenburg this afternoon, I heard some of Paul Kennedy’s Ideas in the Afternoon on the radio. Toronto essayist and poet Christopher Dewdney, author of The Soul of the World: Unlocking the Secrets of Time, and freelance broadcaster Cindy Bisaillon presented ideas on time – how real is it and how we change it. It was a fascinating show, talking a lot about the fourth dimension. I probably wouldn’t have heard it if I wasn’t in the car, away from my usual afternoon things: computer work, playing with the dog, etc. I treasure my time in the car with the radio on. I also like to listen to the radio when I am painting. Sometimes I think of it as “white noise”, a distraction from the thoughts in my head so that I am more free to just let things happen. I can also tell the time (and the day) by what program is on the radio.
In the interviews one man, a native American, said he was always looking at his watch and, once, an elder asked him if he had to be somewhere. He answered he just wanted to know what time it was. The elder said, no, he wanted to know what time it wasn’t. So he stopped wearing a watch and was able to really know what time he was in.
As for time and my work, I’m often asked how long it takes to make a painting. My answer can be “anywhere from six weeks to six years”, or if I’m being really honest, I’d say “a lifetime”. The physical time is one thing; the actual time is very different. I am with my art, and with any particular painting, all the time, while eating, sleeping, walking, going to the movies, all of the above and otherwise.
When I was a child, time was slow. I’d play in my room all day under a tent (a sheet thrown over the furniture) with my imaginary friends and family. Summers were long. Now when June comes and the weather warms, I want to cry because I know it will be cold again far too soon.
There’s clock -time and real-time. On one level (the one other than the one we use for scheduling ourselves), it is said a person ages faster who moves faster. What this means is if you savor your life, it is longer. You have more time. I think I will dwell on that thought.