Chronophobia: Escaping the Prison of Time

For the person who wants to live forever, Time is not your friend.

I don’t mean to sound morose. But if we’re being real—as it relates to time—if life were a prison, we’re all on death row and Time is the warden and executioner. It doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have, how long we’ve been here or will be, we’re all headed out of here at some point. As my friend says, “Birth is a terminal disease.” And yet, in our western, youth obsessed culture, there are few places where we can go to foster a healthy relationship to the terminality of time.

In the 11th verse of Ecclesiastes 3 it says, “God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover the Creator has put a sense of eternity–past and future–into their hearts, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

This pretty much sums up the human dilemma. We have infinite imaginative and projecting capacity with limited ability to realize it. In my opinion, this is the unconscious root of much of our neuroses—trying to reconcile these two aspects of our being. Time is messing with our minds. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

In his Healthline article on the mental health concern known as chronophobia—essentially the fear of the passing of time—Scott Frothingham highlights vacations as one among some other triggering events where our relationship to time might engender a sense of loss that consequently diminishes our experience of the time we actually do have as well as have a potentially adverse effect on the relationships with those with whom we journey through time. Some other such events are:

  • high school or college graduation
  • wedding anniversary
  • milestone birthdays
  • And I’m sure you can think of more.

What each of these events have in common is that they bring to our conscious awareness the intensity of the passing of time and our inability to control the flow of it. 

In the video below, in light of the teachings of Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, I reflect on chronophobia and how we make peace with our presence in time.

Everything Has Its Time

Ecclesiastes 3 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

9 What gain have the workers from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11 God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover the Creator has put a sense of eternity–past and future–into their hearts, yet they cannot find o

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