How to Time Travel

Dec 2023



“Being Slow means that you control the rhythms of your own life. You decide how fast you have to go in any given context. If today I want to go fast, I go fast; if tomorrow I want to go slow, I go slow. What we are fighting for is the right to determine our own tempos.”

– Carlo Petrini


“Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed how much more life she had time for.”

– Unknown


A followup to this previous essay.

I read a lot of books and watch a lot of TV and movies per year. I tried to count it once and it looked something like; reading about 50 books a year; watching about 30 TV shows per year; watching 50 movies per year and finishing about 1 video games per month. I watch close to 3 hours of TV a day and read about 2 hours of books per night. When I was a kid my parents used to tell me this was a bad thing but now I’m an adult, I’ve decided it’s actually a very good thing.

One of the things I really like doing is working or doing chores while there’s a TV on in the background. My Mum used to do this and she always used to say having the sound in the background felt calming to her. I think that has passed down genetically to me, my sister and my daughter – where it seems like each of us need sound to feel at ease.

But when you watch so much what matters is the type of media you consume. If you watch amazing critically acclaimed films then that is much better than watching reality television. As a rule I don’t watch any reality television. Only things that seem like people have put a lot of effort into it’s creation from people I think are really gifted thinkers and dreamers. The Shakespeare’s of our time, I try to watch everything by them. I believe that some of the best parts of being alive is being able to do this – to immerse yourself in the best stories being created.

But something really interesting happens when you do this. You constantly feel like more time has elapsed than it has. It genuinely feels like time is moving faster for you. Because your mind is so immersed in these different worlds. Every day you might jump through 3 or 4 different worlds, each different, amazing and exhilarating. But this effect compounds, after a few weeks have gone by, you’ve finished half a dozen books, a few TV shows and movies. Because you’ve consumed so much media it feels like much more time has elapsed than what really has.

I have this moment all the time. I’ll have started a book yesterday and finished it the next day and it feels like a week has gone by but it’s only been a day. You’re then a tiny bit disoriented about how much time has elapsed. Sometimes if you read or watch enough feels like a month has gone by but really it’s only been a week or it’ll feel like years ago that you read that book even though it was just recently.

I think that this feeling, of time moving much faster than it is, making time genuinely feel longer, is the only way to realistically time travel. You can condense more stuff into the same amount of time and thereby make that time feel like it stretches out more. Nobody can literally time travel, but this is way that makes me feel like I can.

Life is just about doing as much stuff as you can while you are alive and feeling like you’ve done a lot with the time you had is part of how to feel fulfilled. If you fit more stuff into less time, then I think this is a big part of that. Often how people reflect on how well they spent their time is just how they feel about it. So if you can make yourself feel like you got way more time than you actually did, I think that can reduce regret and increase fulfilment. And just plain makes you a more balanced and happy person.