The idea of lost time is a beguiling and sometimes terrifying concept to us as humans. Our experience of time as linear and predictable, broken up into orderly units of seconds, hours and days is an inseparable part of us. Our experience of time is our experience of life. And when you disrupt our concept of time, you mess with our concept of life.
There are many stories of lost time, or time blindness, usually attributed to the fantastic or the paranormal. It might come from traditional tales of travels in the realms of Faerie. Gaelic tales of someone who seemingly drops out of reality only to reappear 7 years later as if no time at all has passed. Perhaps they met a beautiful stranger, shared a loaf of bread, walked between two stones and simply passed out of our world and into the next. They experienced life as if it was passing over the course of a day, until they leave (should they be so lucky) and return to our world weeks or even years later. Or perhaps they live an entire lifetime in that other place, and return in their dotage to the place where they crossed over, only to find themselves returned to the very instant in which they left.
Such stories are not new. We see them repackaged in shows and movies such as Star Trek or Interstellar, books like the Chronicles of Narnia and of course, as previously mentioned in the stories of the cruel and beautiful elves of myth and legend. The modern version is probably the experience of alien contact – a close encounter of the fourth or fifth kind. There are many accounts of a person seeing strange lights, blacking out and waking up with their memories wiped but their clocks advanced a number of hours or days.
Now, you may scoff at these stories, saying they are but the product of a diseased or altered mind. Or maybe a bored and overly creative one. Perhaps they are just fanciful tales. But there is one place where the phenomena indisputably exists. One place where the flow of time is altered, where the walls are weak. Where everything goes sort of… wibbly-wobbly.
That place is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
It is a wild place, a soft place. A lawless and unknowable tangle. Is it a weekday? Am I eating the same meal for the second time, or is this the fourth? Are we drinking today too? In the morning? Is it a family time, a friend time, a time of celebration or of rest? Wait, what day is it again? Am I supposed to be at work right now? I had beers with mates whose faces I had almost forgotten today, and I think yesterday, and I probably will tomorrow. And… was Christmas yesterday, or the day before? Or the day before? Could this be heaven? Maybe this is hell?
However, there are those who walk among us – poor souls doomed to repeat their work cycle or their children’s rhythms. These are powerful beings, beings of calendar and diary, beings of planning and obligation and commitment. Beings for whom the delineation of weekday and weekend is still firm, and whose gaze can penetrate the fugue state in which the rest of us are trapped; an indulgent miasma of genteel confusion. A haze of no alarms and rich meals, gifted chocolates and leftovers, the shared social freedom from work of an entire peer group. But those beings are still able to tell us the date, the day and the time, to tell us what is, what was, and what will be.
You may choose to fight it. To forcibly shed the scales from your eyes, to keep your schedule, to remain a steadfast captain of your ship, keeping it righted and on-course. Or you can allow yourself to lean back and let go. To fall back with a gentle sigh into the arms of chaos and chance. To allow today to be subsumed by tomorrow, and gently fade into yesterday, as did yesterday, as did yesterday. To allow reality to slip just for a while, until the carcass has been picked clean and the fridge is empty once more, and your appointments are pressing again. Until after the death and rebirth of the year, when you can once more tell what day it is and where you need to be. Whichever course you choose, be aware – those hazy days are coming.