Saturday, May 23, 2009

Inner Game

Last week I ventured above 50th street and went up to Morningside Heights for a meeting. It was a beautiful spring day, and I ended up wandering around the area vaguely looking for labyrinth books. However, due to my shopping moratorium, I ended up perusing the stalls at a second hand book store.

I found a copy of Inner Tennis, a self help book along the lines of improve your tennis game, improve your life. One section discusses how greater focus on a task seems cause time to slow down. Gallwey makes an analogy to film. In films of the 20s, for example, the action seems sped up. This is because the shutter speed on these cameras were slower. That means you had less images to work with. When you play back the images, you have less images to play and the action seems to proceed faster.

So apply this to focus. If I am half focused on a tennis ball, and half focused on my inner dialogue that says - this is a easy shot, or a hard shot, or I suck, or I am awesome - I have a slower shutter speed. I am taking less pictures of the ball. This means I have less information. When I "play back" the movie, the ball will seem faster because there are gaps in my inner movie of the ball's trajectory.

(This is not a great explanation - but I am trying with this blogging medium)

What if you focus completely intensely. Is time continuous or digital? Is time like the number line, with more irrational numbers (holes) than rational numbers? What does this mean for our inner movie?

On a more practical level: For kids time seems to move slower because we are more engaged and focus - there is more newness. As we become older, we experience this 'newness' less and are probably less attentive - we are taking less pictures of the here and now - and are spending more time with a wandering mind.

I am really having a lot of fun with this book - and I'm itching to pick up a racket.

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