Experimenting With Time Travel: the Glamorous Side of Jet-Lag
As any weary traveler will tell you, even a few hours in transit will destroy all sense of time. Since time is a cultural concept, it’s only fitting that a place devoid of culture-i.e. an airport-bring it’s demise. While you’d be hard pressed to find a more diverse cross section of the human experience, the endless grey walls, escalators, and identical duty-free shops makes the culture surrounding you indiscernible. In any given spot you’ll hear 5 different languages, but the building itself lends little evidence as to which country you’re even in.
The swirl of individual backgrounds exacerbates the sense of timelessness. Each traveler comes with their own timezone attached, their own distortion of what time their body thinks it is, their own count of hours in transit v. hours of sleep. On my to study in Murcia, Spain a few years ago, my seatmate Claire (coincidentally another 20 year old girl studying in Spain for the year) and I attempted to keep track of the time where we’re from and where we’re going and how many hours we had left in our ocean spanning flight. It may have been due to the sleep deprivation, but this task was quite difficult. The more you try to understand the passage of time, the more it becomes an abstract concept. Eventually you surrender yourself to timelessness and wait to adapt to the time at your destination. We mused on how strange it was to think of all the different time-zones attached to our fellow passengers.
“It’s weird to think that they’re traveling back and we’re traveling forward.. It’s like time travel.” -Claire
While I assume (I mean I don’t really KNOW) that there aren’t any mystical forces at work, time changes are as whimsical as they are miserable. There’s a lesson to be learned in facing 10+ hours in a cramped seat with little to do. I’m not saying I know what that lesson is, but it’s in there; maybe it’s that we are more control of our time than we think. Maybe that 10 unoccupied hours is a blessing.
Maybe that it’s 5:00 somewhere. Maybe even that we have many preconceived and subconscious notions of what time is depending on our cultural reference.
What I do know is that my time is my own and I intend to make the most of it, without concern for the grip our airline overlords think they have on it. Cheers to making the most of your time.
Go forth and time travel, friends.