The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
– Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet, philosopher, Nobel Laureate (1861-1941)
Where does time go? Indeed, what is time? How can we, in an average 80 year lifespan, not have enough time to do the things we should and want to do, yet, as Tagore said, the butterfly who lives but moments has enough.
Time is a man-made construction. No other living thing on the planet keeps track of time other than humans. Does that make us special or self-deluded? Both options have strong support.
Einstein factored space-time into his calculations, but today theoretical physicists claim that he may have been wrong, that time does not exist in reality. Consider that you read this at one instance of something. You remember history and you dream about the future. But what’s the difference?
The fact that we may be able to prove the something happened “in the past” does not prove that the event actually happened at a different instance in time. Perhaps we have defined our present in such as way that we claim the event as history. Likewise, we suspect that anyone who is convinced that something he dreams will happen in the future is either a psychic or a madman.
What we remember as history and what we dream as the future are, so far as our brain in concerned, merely different instances in the same event–coincidences that we manufacture in a theoretical sense to explain what we want to believe. The only moment in “time” that you can prove actually exists is this one, the one you are living right now. After now, what happened is history that you may invent just as well as you can invent an apparently realistic future.
Okay, too much heavy physics. Why, then, do we for so much of our lives run short of time when all other life on earth has enough?
The answer: no other living thing pays any attention to what others of its kind tell it to do or expect it to do. We adopt responsibilities for ourselves, usually more of them as we get older. Eventually so much of what we do–that comprises our history later– is consumed that we don’t have enough time in any day to get it all done.
And we put it down to “getting older.” As if time somehow magically moves faster simply because we are busier with more responsibilities and don’t keep track of the passage of instances until we look back to see how much we didn’t get accomplished. If that sounds strange, remember that Einstein said that time slows down as our speed approaches the speed of light. Science has proven that.
Time, most people agree, is our most treasured possession. Yet few of us accomplish the most important things we want to do with our time. Much of our time is spent either spending money to amuse ourselves that we are doing what others tell us to do (via advertising, peer pressure) or we’re earning money to amuse ourselves doing these things later.
If that sounds sarcastic or cynical, perhaps you should take some time to consider how much of your day is spent doing things that others tell you to do or expect you to do, things that you would be criticized for not doing by others if you “neglected” them.
Only children and some old people have time to spare. Children have time because they have not yet adopted the responsibilities that the society they will grow into will tell them they must accept. Old people who have given up the heavy burden of responsibilities (such as those in special care homes where they will live until they die) have time to either enjoy the life around them or they slowly close down their brain until whether the cap was put back on the toothpaste tube or the towels are hanging correctly become important events in their day.
The important question should not be “Do I have enough time?” but “Am I spending the time I have in ways that matter?” What really does matter to you?
The first question is irrelevant. If the answer to the second question is yes, then you will have a satisfying experience as you consider events on either side of your present instance. You should have the answer to the third question at hand at all times.
Beware: there will always be people who will try to tell you how you must spend your time. They may ask you or command you. They may co-opt you or enslave you. Whatever they do, the responsibility for whether you accept the responsibility for doing what they want is your choice.
Always your choice.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make the tough questions of life a bit clearer so you can make the right decisions about how to use your time.
Learn more at http://billallin.com