Merriam-Webster defines time as “a nonspatial continuum” that measures “events which succeed one another from past through present to future.”

Clearly, Messrs. Merriam and Webster never lived through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feeling unmoored from the normal rhythms of life?

Wondering why today feels just like yesterday, which felt just like the day before, which felt just like the day before that?

Afraid to even think about when the social distancing, face-mask wearing, elbow bumping and air hugging will end because … what if it never ends?

You’re not alone.

“How goes it?” I asked a colleague over the phone the other day.

“I dunno,” he replied with palpable resignation in his voice. “It goes.”

“Every day is Sunday!” a co-worker lamented to my daughter last week, capturing in four words the altered dimension we’ve found ourselves in since, when was it, back in March?

As we approach the six-month mark of the pandemic with no horizon, I’ve noticed a change in many people whose virtual paths cross mine.

A crisis that once felt temporary – as in, “Maybe things will get better by summer!” – has become a way of life.

Socializing has all but evaporated, at least for those of us at heightened risk of succumbing to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

For many, working has become a solitary, homebound experience, interrupted only by the occasional Zoom call or Amazon delivery or the dog barking at nothing in particular.

And the passage of time? It no longer seems to have any meaning. As Bill Murray’s Phil Connors suggested in the timeless movie “Groundhog Day,” “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”

Meet Dr. Philip Gable. An associate professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, he’s currently researching a timely topic if ever there was one: How the pandemic is affecting our emotions, behavior and, last but not least, our perception of the passage of time.

All of which, as Gable noted in an interview on Friday, can be condensed into a new, one-size-fits-all day of the week.

“I’ve heard it called ‘Blursday,’” he said with a chuckle.

Amid all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Gable and his team are examining how the spread of the novel coronavirus is affecting our emotions – from fear of contracting the disease to the sense of social responsibility that comes with helping to stop its spread. At the same time, they’re exploring how those emotions impact our internal clocks, which are infinitely more complex than the simple ticking away of seconds, minutes and hours.

“One of our strongest senses of time is the cycles we go through – and a lot of that has to do with our daily routines that have been completely disrupted by COVID,” Gable said. “We still have night and day and the seasons, but we’ve completely lost our typical workday-weekend designations a lot of times.”

Gable’s nine-month project is funded through a $69,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Rapid Response Research program, which normally fast-tracks studies of hurricanes, mass shootings, terrorist attacks and other unexpected calamities. In March, Congress allocated $75 million to the foundation for an array of research projects not only on how the pandemic is spreading, but also how it’s affecting Americans’ everyday lives.

Using a smartphone app, 1,000 participants from across the country began cataloguing their daily existences in March as stay-at-home orders went into effect and life seemed for many to grind to a halt. Included in the data are their perceptions of whether time feels like it’s passing more quickly, more slowly or pretty much the same.

So far, Gable and his team have processed responses from only March and April – data from June and July should be ready in the coming weeks. But already, Gable said, a noteworthy trend is emerging.

“Fear and anxiety about the virus is one of the strongest predictors about time dragging,” he said, noting that in March, 75 percent of the subjects showed a correlation between negative emotions and days without end.

“We get in our own way when we’re stuck at home quarantined,” Gable said. “People couldn’t do anything to assuage or relieve that kind of fear and anxiety and stress they were experiencing because they’re stuck at home. It’s not like you can run away from it or fight it in any way.”

Then in April, things took a turn for the better.

“We started seeing a shift towards more people feeling time was moving a little bit faster. And the strongest predictor about time passing (more quickly) was positive emotion. More people were experiencing feeling happy or glad in the second month than the first month,” he said.

Another predictor: Those with a little more spring in their step in April also reported a high level of face-mask wearing, suggesting that “engaging in healthy behavior,” as Gable put it, led to more positive emotions, which in turn seemed to make the hands of the clock move faster.

Of course, all of that was months ago. As Labor Day fast approaches, here many of us remain on our slow-moving daily treadmills, keeping our social distance and watching … the world … go by. A widely accessible COVID-19 vaccine could still be a year away – however long that is.

Gable’s advice?

“If you want to try and make time go by faster, it’s kind of impossible to say, ‘Make yourself happier!’” he conceded. Still, he added, it’s never too late to “find a goal that you’re good at and you would somewhat enjoy, something that you really want to accomplish. Learning to high-jump, which would be extremely difficult for most everybody, might not be your best goal. But maybe your goal is to get a little bit more fit or learn to cook really good sourdough.”

I’ll pass on the sourdough, which feels so last spring. But the man has a point.

Friday afternoon, a friend texted me to ask if I’d like to join him sailing today on Casco Bay.

“Masks in the skiff,” he promised. “Then spread out on board & hope for good wind.”

It was music to my ears. What better way to shake up these summer doldrums than to hop in the car, drive to Portland and head out onto the endless ocean for … a few fleeting hours … maybe a whole day?

I hope it feels like a week.

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