I am not one for new-age quackery. Any talk of my chakras, alignment crystals, or incense-wafting in my direction does not provoke the apparently desired reaction of serenity. ‘I’m a busy man’, I think, but do not say to my spiritually-inclined friends, for fear that the voice of Alan Partridge might escape me in place of my own. ‘I don’t have time for this’.
That said, I put this to one side when reading the instructions included in a box of skin care items I received from ARgENTUM Apothecary. The instructions are full of allusion to rituals, and surrounded by tarot inspired imagery. To be frank I was utterly impressed by how well the packaging and products were put together. The copy, the artwork, even the directions for application all betrayed an intensity of care and effort which began to astound me. It left me wondering who has time to really appreciate this? Or anything, for that matter?
It’s symptomatic of new year’s, but lately I’ve been concerned with how quickly time has been disappearing. When I was younger I used to hate to sleep. The thought of 6 to 8 hours spent in the dark with nothing to do always felt like the definition of boredom to me. Now the time between falling asleep and hearing my alarm seems to be diminishing every day. I’m at the point where I’m relieved to check my phone to see it’s 4 am, and that I still have another 2 or 3 hours to myself.
Philip Larkin said it better, but the human brain is a rubbish tool for perceiving time. What we see when we look at time is less a true reflection than a hall of mirrors grotesquerie. There’s no better or more familiar illustration of this than the phenomenon of clock watching. An temporal illusion with the truly miraculous effect of producing exactly the opposite result to what you wish to see. (Try it yourself.)
A (much less suggestible) friend of mine once told me that being precious about how you spend your time prevents you from truly enjoying it. I’m reminded of this while looking at the laboriously crafted material accompanying La Potion Infinie, the anti-ageing moisturiser from ARgENTUM. While the packaging is clearly designed by someone with a deep love of the mystical, it’s clearly stated that the ritual element of the product is evoked ‘with a sense of fun’. In fact, this seems to me to have touched directly on the point that my new-age acquaintances seem to be missing. Or perhaps deep down they know it too.
Taking ten minutes out of your day to apply La Potion Infinie – like meditating, yodelling (?), and whatever else it is that new-age hippies do – isn’t really about channelling cosmic forces, or balancing your energy levels. It’s fun. It’s taking ten minutes out of your day to slow down, and forget about time passing. Maybe this year, the things you find yourself with no time for are precisely what you should be aiming to do more of.
Does this mean I’m going into 2018 dead set on realigning my chakras? To each his own, reader.
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