Monday, November 16, 2009

Time: Is it on your side?

Changing the clocks forwards and backwards every year always makes me think of the irrelevant, arbitrary, fictions of time. In class we’ve been discussing temporalities and concepts of straight and queer time. Where straight time is always linear and follows particular culture paths of childhood, adulthood, marriage, procreation, and productive citizenship (Goltz 117) and queer time is the antithesis of that. The class has given me a sense of calm in regards to accepting my life decisions, especially since they do not line up perfectly with “straight” timelines. I am learning to absorb the happiness that comes with my alternative choices—to not marry, to not pop out babies, to not have just a singular career ideal. Feminist theory gave me the strength to not conform to the patriarchical heterosexual norms, but this class in particular has helped ease anxieties I have had regarding my “future”.

For example, the question I am so often asked is “what are you going to do when you’re done with grad school.” As if my entire life will suddenly alter and whatever I was doing before will no longer be relevant. I will have to immediately find a 9 to 5 job and stay with it, moving up the ladder to the top until I can retire. There is a mold designed for me that I do not intend to abide by. For one thing, I can’t imagine staying static, I want to be always moving and learning so why can’t I do multiple things?

One concept that really stuck out to me was the idea to “keep open to time,” rather than trying to “keep up with time” (Goltz 122). Instead of always racing the clock I can attempt to the best of my ability to enjoy my day, my month, my year, my life. Anxiety is intrinsically linked to linear future time lines. We must always be reaching toward particular goals, goals structured more by the outside world than by our own personal needs and wants; goals that we never set for ourselves. What do goals look like that don’t follow “straight” time?

We’re taught early on how to move through the world. “Straight” time is so embedded in our daily lives that it’s hard to imagine any other way. We were enmeshed with these societal ideal behaviors from such a young age that we’ve never imagined any other options for ourselves.

It’s time to really evaluate what we’ve been taught, to really analyze our surroundings, our own thoughts, our feelings and our interactions with communities.

We can all imagine a better world, if we can imagine it than that means it is in our reach. Our knowledge systems can only take us so far, but we’re at a stage right now where we are able to deconstruct what we know and also channel and revolt against ideas we no longer find acceptable.

Look within your own conceptions of time. Where are you in the future—? What timeline did you follow—was it straight, queer, linear, lateral, wherever you wanted it to be? Are you still yearning for happiness or are you enjoying each day for what it is? What does your clock look like? How fast does it tick tock?

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