As documented in this blog, I felt the shift from "tourist mind" to "city-dweller mind" begin to happen to me after about 2 or 3 months here. And here is the punchline of today's post... the thing I have noticed recently and find extremely interesting: My perception of time shifted radically, also at the 2 - 3 month mark. Those first 2 or 3 months, in which everything was new and my observational capacities were turned up to eleven, moved very slowly. On any given day, I knew what I had done the day before, the week before, even the month before. I knew what I wanted to do next. I felt the days were richly full of new experience, and that time was crawling. And then... slowly... it sped up. And now it's a blur, like it usually is. What did I do yesterday? Not sure, I'll have to check my blog, or my texts. Weird.
They say that meditation can affect the perception of time. This feels to me as if it must be related, as one of the claimed benefits of a meditation practice is an increased awareness, an enhanced perception. I can imagine that if one were to walk around perceiving everything, that time really would feel richly full and would move comparatively slowly. But can you run the gauntlet of city-center low-lives with your eyes and ears wide open, and come out the other side unscathed? My guess is that you can, but that it would require some advanced form of compassion, or perspective, or some other gift bestowed on few of us. Maybe this is why monasteries are always in the mountains.
This morning Kodiak and I were riding the metro to school. The metro is a great place to see a wide swath of humanity, and also a great place to see "city-dweller mind" on full display. Lots of sunglasses, earbuds, and closed faces. But something caught Kodiak's eye, and I looked over with him to see a young girl, perhaps 9 or 10, in a surfing stance, trying to "ride" the tumultuously moving train without holding onto anything. And she had a huge smile on her face. I told Kodiak that I love how happiness is contagious. Sure enough, he and I were smiling just watching her.