If humans were to adopt octopus-inspired metaphors for time, our relationship to our personal past might become more meaningful. It would allow our past to be causally linked to the present. It might allow our attention to shift away from the culturally conditioned obsession with future-focused progress. It might allow historical ideas to be excavated and used as sources of innovation for everything from medicine to politics. And it might allow a more expansive conceptualisation of events that can be considered meaningful, all due to metaphors of time that are free from constraints.
What we can learn from this is that our experience of time is deeply embodied, but also somewhat flexible: whether we use the ego-moving or time-moving metaphor depends on how we move through the space around us. And this flexibility is not just related to how we move; it’s also about how we perceive the world.
…if we became more like an octopus, could we free time, metaphorically speaking, from its constraints? Could we experience it as multidimensional, fluid and free?
I made notes towards this essay five minutes before my therapy appointment this morning, after spending an hour wondering if I’d spent too much time waking up/drinking coffee and calculating whether I had enough time to ride my little rented stationary bike for 20 minutes before said therapy appointment. I rented the bike to make myself more productive and therefore “give myself more time,” but it has now taken its place in my life among all the other constant negotiations I have in my mind, during which I ask the question, all day, every day, on and off: Do I have time for this?
— Amanda Montei, Do I Have Time for This? Meditations on wellness time, domestic time, leisure time, and time well spent