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Why time can’t be of the essence

As women, we are constantly bombarded with images that remind us of our desire for immortality, or rather our fight with our inability to have immortality.  There are media images and advertisements that continue to remind us that we are aging and that it is truly not a good thing. Having wrinkles, grey hair, or sagging skin are all normal progressions of life that we are encouraged to avoid at all costs. Laugh lines created from years of joy become unfortunate reminders that “time” itself is catching up with us and that death is around the corner. There has to be a way to get a better grasp of time and how it is interpreted by us all. To account for the years without actually counting the years. To embrace the journey of our lives without actually counting the lines that represent the journey on our faces. If true essences comes from within then it’s time to dissect the fact that we are allowing society, and ourselves, to embrace essence from external factors.

What is time exactly?

Philosophers have struggled with the concept of time since the days of Aristotle. It has been argued that we as humans have a consciousness of time that separates us from that of the animal; who have only a continual present concept without distinctions of past, present or future. This can be both good and bad. It registers positive for obvious reasons such as appreciating the memories that we hold of our children, looking forward to events in the future, and even finding joy in the moment. This is not so good, however, when we go outside of the scope of understanding time by attaching it to our fears.  According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy we have time perception, biopsychology, temporal illusions, and chronophobia—all of which are associated with aspects of time, whether absolute or relative. Each of these represents our attitudes, ideas, and the feelings that we associate with the concept of time. Looking at them more closely, we find;

* Time perception, which refers to the subjective experience of the passage of time, or the perceived duration of events.

* Biopsychology, which refers to how our brain processes time and time intervals.

* Temporal illusions, which are distortions and misperceptions of time that arise from a variety of psychological and other causes. The effect of aging on time perception is an example of this particular illusion.

* Chronophobia, which is the fear of time or the fear of the passing of time.

Unfortunately, even as we come to understand how time is conceptualized by our own mental process, we are still left to wonder why we struggle with the notion that time is not what contributes to those things which define us.  “Time is that measuring aspect of things which maintains daily biological rhythms and regulates sleep and hormone production,” stated Elisabeth Eaves in an article she wrote for Forbes magazine.  She also noted from Michael West, a gerontologist who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and founded the biotech company Geron that “time actually has little impact on biology.”

“From a gerontologist’s standpoint, biological time is not wear-and-tear, it’s a genetic program,” says West. “The cells are programmed to last just long enough for us to rear children, and no longer.”  Biologically, it can be easily understood how time is associated with the inner workings of our bodies genetically. However, this does not assist in the understanding of why we as women have allowed “time” itself to have such a significant role in how we feel about ourselves.

Media gives time a false reality

We’ve all heard the saying that “time is of the essence” and we are all guilty of comparing our looks “now” with the looks we once possessed. If it’s true that essence is synonymous with soul and spirit, then we must care enough to ponder upon the idea that we have given time more power than it deserves.  If we must look more closely into why we choose to run a race with time, can we begin with how we see ourselves portrayed in the media? Whether you are looking at a magazine, a social media image, or perhaps watching television and are then subjected to another commercial that talks about how you can use a product that promises to keep you looking younger, it’s all the same—a means in which to instill fear. The moment you allow yourself to believe that your looks are associated with time, and that time is running out on you, you are then on your way to a loaded issue that connects itself with fear, depression, and anxiety.  According to a study held by the Journal of Consumer Research in 2017, “advertisements displaying beauty-enhancing (rather than problem-solving) products are likely to remind consumers of their own shortcomings.”

“This tactic of advertising seeks to create a need rather than fulfilling one,” as stated by author Christopher Lasch, “and generates new anxieties instead of allaying old ones.” Living in a society where attention is given to those who are young and beautiful leads us to believe that we are not worthy if we do not fit the bill. The problem is that we fail to recognize that the bill was created by those who sought to profit on the insecurity of others. Enhancing ones beauty is fine as long as it does not cross the line of assuming that it is actually stopping time or enhancing that which can only be found within. To overcome the fear associated with aging, we must first accept that this fear is attached to time—so much so—that we forget to appreciate the very moment that time is giving us. To appreciate the moment that we spend with our children and to take in the small details so that we can forever hold the memories close. To appreciate the wisdom that time allowed us to receive through the years so that we can educate and empower others through our experiences.  It means a lot when you can take back your power and then define what “time” is for you and how you will use it, rather than allowing time to use you by exploiting your insecurities and leading you to believe that time can be saved, spared, or altered in some way. Take the time to appreciate the life you have and the years you have been given. Time can indeed be your friend, but it does not have to be your soul.

About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.

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