"What is time anyway?"

Updated: Apr 23

This writing doesn't always have to happen on bad days. I've been having about three good days, in a row, and I wanted to write because this evening's breaking news, that the Singapore government will be extending the "circuit breaker," gave me such joy that I wanted to consider why.

This coincides with a time when the chest sparks have paused (or, I hope, stopped). The tinnitus has become more bearable, and I haven't used white noise to sleep for over a week now. I got too stressed using it. I had a grating need to understand whether an audial detail I would suddenly note was from the track, in my ear, or somewhere else. Nowadays, I sleep with just the untampered eeeeee noise. As long as its volume is bearable and I can view it as a hermetic zipper sealing me off from the rest of the world, I am fine. I put my ear down on the pillow and a bell rings, shepherding me to enter my own mind fully from there.

(Although, I've been thinking that I should just get up and dance to the piece of audio only I can hear.)

(Imagine a stage of dancers with tinnitus.)

Yesterday I watched a documentary that asked, "What is time anyway?" I had never asked myself that. I've realized that for some time I've never really had a relationship with time, although I've constantly had a relationship with a schedule.

Having tinnitus with a crammed schedule squeezed me. I needed to fit addressing the tinnitus in a schedule that already was trying to accommodate a lot, but here I am with the eeeeeee, and downtown Singapore is crawling. Doctors can't take patients if the cases aren't urgent. The eeeeeee, which to my mind is a trademark of acceleration, is incongruent, almost laughably unreal.

Time itself now feels a lot more whole and wholesome. A day is now a bubble that I live in, not a pie cut into slices, as it was before. I work on my novel everyday, I study French and Japanese everyday, I dance or workout everyday, and I still am with my daughter tons, but I am not so tired running around because everything happens at home. I slip into and out of activities with a change of mindset more than a change of place, and I am never so anxious about the clock striking a certain time. Where a clock doesn't seem to matter, the tinnitus itself seems to also have lost its urgency. My body, in general, is calmed down. It responds to the tinnitus in a calmer, more positive manner, too. (As in: Tinnitus, I want to try to dance to you.)

Experiences are now more streamed with one other, perhaps because of the optical foundation of most things happening in the same apartment, as opposed to the previous lifestyle, which felt like a chase of addresses. The cornucopia of activities has always been a double-edged sword, and doing them in separate places has only accentuated the fact that there were many things to do in one day. (My husband, whose weekday schedule normally required only Home and Office, finds being only home hard, citing the fluidity of this space as his woe. There is probably an optimal number of spaces for a human to inhabit in one day.)

Except for a midday chunk between 11:30-2:00 p.m., when my family does a takeaway-lunch hunt followed by a post-prandial takeaway-coffee ramble, for downtown now has the calm of the countryside, a day for me feels like a bubble with a 24-hour lifespan. It bounces around and contains me inside. I follow its flow until I'm transferred to the next day. Somewhere in that bubble, I'll bounce around the interior curves and smack onto a spot for work or a recreational activity. There is much less alone time and yet much less anxiety for the to-do list.

Not going anywhere besides for a stroll works for me. It works so well that I have said frequently to my husband that I don't want the return of "normalcy." Its visuals tire me out.

Last night, the tinnitus called to me more as a wail. I imagined it repining how it has lost a lot of control over my life. I'm confident that the answer lies in the re-illustration of a day, which the hermetic "circuit breaker" lifestyle has brought about. In general, I feel lighter. I feel transported to the next day simply because naturally one day ends and another begins, not because I've responsibly gone to bed at a certain hour and am waking up to the sound of an alarm clock several hours later. I'm not living on top of or along a schedule. I'm mostly living inside of something that feels floaty, flexible, confident, reliable, seasoned.

A little like I am living in the sky.


©2020 by Thammika Songkaeo.