It’s About Time: A Brief Examination

The Zephyr of a shadow, the sound of prayers echoing from a mosque, the sun setting, a bird singing. All these things are governed by one thing that each one of us shares — time.

Time is interesting to think about; the way it was invented, how we use it today, or the more intriguing question; how time uses us.

Today, we are content with our 24 time zones, 24 hours, 12 months and 365.25 days. We use these data points to measure our lives by because they offer some meaning to an otherwise fluid concept.

And yet, as fundamental a component time is to our lives, rarely do we stop to ask the questions: what does time mean for us, and how has it changed the way we live?

A Global Constant

Today, whether you are in Toronto or Taipei, there is one thing that affects us all. We may not respect it in the same way, but we all have to accept that time rules our lives.

A split second or ticking of a minute can change lives and poses greater control over our actions than any other man-made device. Each minute passes by at different speeds for different people. When you’re bored, minutes can feel like hours. And, when we’re busy, the days fly by.

Anticipation has the ability to extend moments limitlessly, while contentment slows our day to a joyous crawl. Making the most of the time we have, therefore, and not letting us control it, is essential.

For many, time can feel like a warlord, keeping you chained from 9–5 and begging for the weekend when you can finally put time into your own terms.

For me, time is stability. I can fill in hours of the day with my favorite hobbies; writing, exercise, reading, and sleep. All the while I feel confident that I am here, living on my terms. In a way, time gives me a sense of purpose and agency, even though I know it’s the one controlling me, not the other way around.

With the convenience of technology, we’re constantly negotiating with time. We ask for a minute here and give a few seconds there with every purchase of instant gratification.

We define ourselves in ways that only time can tell; ‘she’s always late’ ‘he’s never on time’. Some of us find it difficult to accept the realities of time and struggle with time management, which is the reason I believe that people who are late, continue to be late. Others use time to their advantage. They agree to respect the equanimous ticking of the hands, which move as quickly or slowly for us as they do anyone else.

I think it’s interesting to think of the ways we play with time in our daily lives, and the ways it plays with us. Around the world and through history, people have protested and revolted against time, yet time waits for no one.

As I continue to think about time I have to wonder how its come to dominate our lives. Who are truly served by time? Is it the poor and underserved or the rich and powerful? These are questions I want to answers to, and share my thoughts on sooner rather than later.