Excuse me, do you have the time?
We have all been asked this question before – or have found ourselves doing the asking – and the answer is usually as simple as checking a watch for reference, and passing the information along. And you’re done! That’s all that is required of these exchanges between two strangers, because here boiled down to its essence is all that time is: a measurement.
But when it comes to ourselves, suddenly our time takes on a whole new character. It morphs into something overbearing, all encompassing; it grows legs and plays a leading role in the story of our lives. Just a measurement? Never! Tell that to the people having a meltdown because they’ve just grown another year older – if time really were just a yard stick for our own organization, then why do we place so much emotional importance upon it?
Let’s not first forget that time is a human invention, no different than the wheel, indoor plumbing, or the iPhone. No horse is wasting any energy lamenting the years gone by, nor are they counting down the days until their next birthday. No rabbit runs through their day forever chasing the next appointment on their calendar books. Nature greets each day, and waves it goodbye, never needing to question why – why does tomorrow have to come so quickly, why can’t today last forever, why can’t yesterday ever repeat itself, why, why, why? Why is the question we always seem to throw at Time, yet why is the most rhetorical question regarding it. Time moves on, that is its nature; it does not do anything for any reason. We know that, but we always seem to forget.
Perhaps it was a mistake for human kind to ever set the first sundial, or to fill in the first water clock. Sure, it made our lives much easier, allowing us to organize and co-ordinate ourselves better – probably helped a lot less dates in ancient Greek from getting stood up – but somewhere along the line Time lost its meaning as a tool, and became in itself the meaningful thing instead. Time and again we count time, but instead of measuring the minutes we measure our self worth.
How many of us now believe that time is a definer for success? That once we reach a certain age our capabilities for doing real and meaningful work will just automatically taper off? Of course, this is not true, and if ever confronted with this idea regarding somebody else most people would argue that age does not mean a thing – it is just a number! It is easy to understand this objectively; we are not blind to Time’s real purpose. But when it comes to ourselves we are utterly blinded, seeing Time as if we are seeing our own reflection, marred with the imperfections we alone believe in. We are already twenty-five years old, we tell ourselves, that is getting too old, or it may even already be too late. The world will not see me now; what I can contribute won’t matter.
I’ll bet if Time could talk, She would laugh. Just giggling uncontrollably at the utter preposterousness of our logic, our complete lack of understanding as to what Time is. We are all given Time as a gift, the greatest gift of all, our time here on earth. Every moment is precious because at any moment our Time may run out, and when the sand in the hourglass runs dry you don’t get one single piece of sand more. That is the only truth, the only why we need to answer.
Why do you move, Time?
To remind you that you are here, and you are alive.
If you suffer daily stress from the belief that you don’t have enough time, or that the time that you have is running too fast away from you – stop. Take a pause. Tell Time to take a timeout (don’t worry, She can do that). You have confused the meaning of time, criss-crossed your emotional ties to Time from its true meaning – a celebration of your vitality, of you being alive – into its basic meaning, an instrument for time keeping. You care about the fact of time passing, rather than the fact of time that is here – the opportunity each new day provides, the absolute miracle of being given Time in the first place.
You are not alone in this, in fact it is fairly common. Our modern life supports living by the clock, not just for your days and months, but even your years and quarter centuries. We celebrate lists of 30 under 30, we venerate young musicians who are barely old enough to drink, let alone grasp what they are talking about in their lyrics – of course, some people achieve success quite young because that is the time they are meant to do so, and their message is needed to be delivered just then. But to set that up as the model for all others who come after them to follow is to limit our scope for creativity, to undermine the beauty of what having lived Time can teach us, and in turn what we can then create back.
If you are to look for Time at all, look at it as a collection of you. All the things that you have been blessed to experience leading up to the moment of you right here, right now. If you are to look for Time in the future, look at it only as an opportunity – a vast open canvas of what you right now can become soon. Don’t waste your precious time moping, worrying, wondering over Time the measurement, the marker. No amount of your distress is going to make a dent of difference. Time will move on, it always does. Don’t keep banging your head against the brick wall of Time, it achieves no purpose, not Time’s and definitely not yours. Time is not your enemy, it does not want to hurt you. Time is after all, a celebration of you. So enjoy it, stay for the party, and have a good time!
Remember – use your time, don’t just count it.
Author’s Note: Thanks for reading, new post up every Wednesday! (Full disclosure, almost didn’t make my own deadline on a blog about Time, but there you have it, the long journey of life with all its little hiccups). Always happy to hear your thoughts, feel free to comment below!