The infinite millisecond

Sitting on a train, you lock eyes with the most attractive person you’ve seen all week, perhaps ever. The eye contact is unintentional, and you want to look away, but you can’t. Possibilities flash through your head: candlelit dinners, walks on the beach, marriage, children, living in old age, dying in the same bed within minutes of each other. Then, one of you looks away. Less than a second has elapsed, yet you feel like you’ve lived your entire life in that moment, and that you’ve been looking into those eyes for years and years.

You walk onto the scene of an emergency. There may be one patient, or there may be three – it doesn’t matter because you’re there and you’re in charge. With enough adrenaline going through your blood, you feel your pulse and respiration rate go up: not so much that you start acting like a retard (read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink for more on this), but enough that you’re thinking quickly and clearly. You assess the situation; you make quick decisions and run several scenarios for every patient; you create care plans for every patient and backup plans for in case they get worse. All of this happens in a span of two eye-blinks but you have everything planned out between initiating contact and handing the patient(s) over to the charge nurse at the ER.

That instance when you are about to kiss someone for the first time and you are less than an inch from them, it’s like the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds, leading up to that moment compress into that microsecond before your lips touch. In addition, the moment when your lips finally do touch, time slows and all seems right with the world.

While in an ensemble or watching an ensemble, there are so many small, infinite moments. There is that instance when silence fills with sound as the conductor’s baton reaches its apex and falls, sounding the first note of the piece; that space when the first resounding note of Kyrie is sung from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis; there are many small silences and gaps between every note; there is that moment where the last sound fades from the hall. Some spaces between notes seem to temporally last longer than others; you know that the time intervals are exactly the same, but for some reason, you can live and bask inside that moment.

That moment when you ask somebody something as simple as “Mum, can I have the car tonight?” or as loaded as when you’re on one knee and you ask someone, “Will you marry me?”, that moment between when you finish the question and, even if the answer is instantaneous, it stretches and it seems like in the time it takes for the response, universes are born, age, and die. Do you think time lengthens more in this moment, or in that moment immediately after when your mother says “Yeah, of course” or that lucky someone says, “Yes” with the most radiant smile on their face?

They say that your entire life flashes before your eyes before you die. I wouldn’t know, but I would imagine that it could happen in a space of a millisecond or over several seconds. All your years in great detail, or just the highlights, all crammed into that little  space before your synapses stop firing.

In terms of time on the grand scale, our lives are nothing but a millisecond, a blink, an infinitesimal speck in the universe. Live your life to its fullest; stretch your existence and   make your life seem like an infinite millisecond to anyone that may be watching.

Photo courtesy of Catch-Fire

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