Time, and it's influence on our lives, has been a pet peeve of mine most of my life. Adopted and raised by a North American Aboriginal, I have had the view from the other side.
Now to be fair, my Dad is a very efficient man. Highly intellectual and still able to get down in the simplest of moments and find the life there, but as with all of us his efficiency was restricted by the extent of his interest in whatever he was doing.
I saw him conquer this struggle in many ways, by orienting his life in manners that worked with his preference. Some of these battles I was not around to see, but I listened as I grew, to my Grandmother talk quietly, boasting on her loving son. Like in University, he utilized the flow of things easily opened to him by others, to project himself toward his own goals.
For example, he became a boxer, in order to gain a scholarship, to help him through school. In classic boxing fashion, he used the momentum of others to move forward. Rather than struggle against the possible perception that others may have had about him being native, he found a better use for his time, embracing the art and moving through.
Not raised on a reserve anywhere, but in a world with all the rest of us, he was still affected by the western compulsion of time. One area, which became a bit of a family jest for a while, was his typical lateness for things. There was no disrespect in his fashion, just a preoccupation with the task at hand. It was part of his capacity to focus and an indication of his high intelligence. However, from the outside, not everyone read it that way, and so he had to master a change.
With his engineering degree in hand, he started working as a construction labourer, biding his time, waiting for his moment and place. With each promotion, he leveraged that for a better job in another company. His hard work and patience paid off, as he eventually did become part owner in a major construction firm. In this way, he could schedule, meetings more appropriate to the use of time in his life. He could incorporate meetings within other tasks that he wanted to be part of, and so would resent their intrusion less. Inevitably, he still had to obligate himself to the times that were set, within the world he lived, and eventually made a reluctant friend of time, but a friend none the less.
Retired now, his life has slowed to a much deserved pace, one where time has little relevance, except for when to see a friend, or travel to a retriever field trial, for hunting dogs, an environment he loves.
Sociologists, along with Anthropologists, have studied for a long time, the differences in cultures that make them unique.
One of the areas these “ologists” focus on is the apparent view of time which cultures hold, and their subsequent response to it. In many ancient cultures, or modern cultures, separate from the western world, predominantly those without sundials or clocks of any kind, time (or rather passage of time) was measured by the passage of an event.
Aboriginal cultures, with their layed-back style, and apparent lack-luster attitude toward the clock, is a well known example to many. It became a source of frustration to early missionaries, who, while they were trying to evangelize, did not realize they were also attempting to westernize. This was as much a pivotal point of resistance, for the native people groups, as was any inappropriate methods used to impart spirituality of a different kind.
The transitioning to a new way of life, marked a change in perception, purpose and function. Life had changed and so time had moved forward, de-synchronizing many from their time, or I guess you could say, literally their space. They were aware of this, at a deep level, but could not find the words to articulate it in a way westerners needed to hear it, to understand what they were doing. Now we see it as a huge gap, that by most was simply, an enforced, drastic, mistake.
I'm not referring to the introduction of the Gospel as that mistake, that's on a spiritual level, it stands by itself, and what is true, for many, remains to be seen, in time. The mistake lie in the lack of understanding, early missionaries had socially. Not recognizing the many valuable things they were asking people of another culture to leave behind, they were stripping them of their reverence for time, and life in the moment. That was not a wrong thing to want to hold on to, and should have been something that was learned from, instead. Huh, living in the moment, it certainly sounds like modern Psychobabble to me, or just timely advice.
Einstein was preoccupied with the concept of time, and how we travel through it, even in his teens. It became a major preoccupation of his, studying space, light, time and all that jazz. Scientists have been venturing into the concept of time since way before then, and are still continuing to study it today. Alongside some of Einstein's theories, they have been braking through to make a little rhyme or reason to the thing.
With the advent of the clock, time began to be monitored in micro changes, so a steady flow of the perception of being thrust forward through time began. This also created a sense of urgency, to achieve, before the commodity of time was wasted. A mentality of task, task, task, developed and so the rat race ensued, and time raced on. Huh. I wonder how rats actually perceive time?
I think my Dad had as much or more of a grasp on understanding the passage of time, than most scientists. I'm not saying he wasn't surprised by events, that crept up on him now and then, but, in the moments, he worked at getting those moments, and not letting them just blur by. It was great to be in many of those moments with him, when I was young. It has taught me to make a reluctant friend of time as well, but a friend none the less. This makes it much easier to find the life in the moment, while not resenting the change life brings.
Our columnist, Daniel, said it well in the last paragraph of his article.
'I think, once in a while, people need to take a step back and realize just how much they have accomplished so far. Just remember, the clock moves as fast or slow as you perceive it.'