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Thursday, September 22, 2011

What if time didn't exist?

The eternal topic of time!

In my previous post, I touched upon lack of time as one of the main reasons we do not reach our goals (or do not live our lives the way we really want to, on a daily basis). Are we to be pitied? Is life such a rat race? Is time such a scarce resource?

First of all, I think the concept of time deserves a more open-minded approach.

Time is, at best, a very relative thing. That is, if it exists at all. Before you start laughing, let me remind you that very intelligent people have questioned this.

Take, for example, the whole Quantum physics approach of time. Questioning the sole existence of time feels uncomfortable to you? You are not alone. Just read this article by the Discover Magazine on the potential nonexistence of time.

Questioning the existence of time is not only done in science; literature has challenged it too. For example, Siddhartha (see the must-read eponymous novel by Herman Hesse) had his own taking on time:

"We are subject to deception, as if time was something real. Time is not real, Govinda, I have experienced this often and often again. And if time is not real, then the gap which seems to be between the world and the eternity, between suffering and blissfulness, between evil and good, is also a deception [...] The river is everywhere at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at once, and there is only the present time for it, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future [...] I looked at my life, and it was also a river, and the boy Siddhartha was only separated from the man Siddhartha and from the old man Siddhartha by a shadow, not by something real. Also, Siddhartha's previous births were no past, and his death and his return to Brahma was no future. Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has existence and is present [...] Oh, was not all suffering time, were not all forms of tormenting oneself and being afraid time, was not everything hard, everything hostile in the world gone and overcome as soon as one had overcome time, as soon as time would have been put out of existence by one's thoughts?"

Of course, most of us are not Einstein nor an aspiring Buddha. Therefore, we are entitled to considering time with a more down-to-earth perspective.

A lot of us are complaining of not having enough time, and a lot of us are using lack of time as an excuse for not doing something (common examples include reading, exercising, and calling your mother). But are we being honest with ourselves?

In fact, all of us have access to the same amount of time. People who accomplish grand things also have to put up with 24 hour days. Given the improvement in life expectancy, we can usually count on many more years than most people from the previous centuries did. Plus, technology has been instrumental in helping us save lots of time. Where is our time going, then?


Salvador Dali

We have to admit that for the most part, we get to choose what we do with our time. Time is just like money in that respect: whatever the amount you have, you could always use more... but it's all about priorities. Making the right choices can go a long way in helping us feel better. Saying yes to something often means saying no to something else. We have to take full responsibility for that kind of decision.

I, for example, admit to wasting time checking my email and my Facebook accounts way too often. Other people watch TV, play computer games, oversleep, surf the Internet aimlessly, etc. Whatever the way we waste our time, at the end of the day, we are the ones dealing with the consequences.

What are you saying yes to today? What are you saying no to?



1 comment:

  1. "Siddhartha" is sitting on my bookshelf of select books just above my computer :-)

    Dali is my favorite painter, and I saw the original Persistence of Memory at the Chicago Institute of Art as a child. It was much smaller than I imagined. We are lucky that his genius and insanity was made accessible to us by his artistic skills. I hope it wasn't too painful for him.

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