Elastic Time! — 2 — Quotidian — 392

(Transcript of video originally posted on 8 May 2022)

Yesterday, we saw this book briefly. And, I had promised to expand on it today. I told you that this book touched upon four different unconnected concepts. Slipstream Time Hacking by Dr. Benjamin Hardy. Firstly, we had
Dr. Albert Einstein brought in, and his theory of relativity, and space, and time were elaborated on. Then, we had a Hollywood movie, with a smart hero and a resourceful heroine, and an amazing plot… And then, we encounter a concept that we often see only in science fiction stories. And finally, the author goes to God! God and related philosophies…! What could this book be about then? Shall we take a look?!


While we enter this Quotidian titled Elastic Time — Part 2, just one small request… Suspend your belief a bit.. Enter the land with an open mind — for that is how I encountered this book. Only if you do the same, you can absorb the best bits from this interesting book.

In this book, one first premise that he sets out, is “Time is an arrow.. Like an arrow speeding forward in time… But… dimwits? The first thing you need to understand about time is — it is relative, and your speed could be different from my speed, could be different from Elon Musk’s speed. Every one of us lives time in a different cadence. In a different rhythm”.

If you were to consider a race-car, and if you compare it with a Model T, the first car ever, the race car is probably two hundred times faster than the other car. And, what it can achieve in one minute is so much more, what it can see in one minute, the places it can visit in one minute, is so much more! Exactly so is your life too…! The faster you move, the slower time will pass. This is Dr. Einstein’s Relativity too. Time slows down as you go faster and faster. And, that is how you also live longer. The aim should not be live to hundred long years, or two hundred long years..! The aim should be to never be stuck on a Sunday afternoon, not knowing what on earth to do! If you spend that time meaningfully, you will already have enough to do, you would have lived long enough is the first slap that this author gives you.

And then, he tell us, not only is each of you living running along time at a different pace, you actually speed up and slow down in your life as you go along. There are discontinuous moments too, in all our lives. For example, if you are suddenly gifted with a Study Abroad program, the things you can do with your life actually changes completely, topsy turvy! If you get this opportunity to study at a college at the age of 20, it ends up making you feel that you have actually aged 15 years in an instant. That is the amount of exposure and experience you can get! Compared to somebody who didn’t get it.

Similarly, you get a job to work with Elon Musk! It IS a discontinuous jump! It actually takes you far far ahead than you could have achieved if you hadn’t had that opportunity! It is almost like you won a lottery!

And he even gives his own personal example about how much he benefited, simply because he married his wife, who had a certain skill, who had certain facilities, who had some riches, who was able to spare time for him, you see that? We are not living in one constant time arrow, nor is our time arrow moving at a constant speed.

And then, he also says, … long long ago, think about how people perceived time.. As far as they were concerned, the presence and the absence of the sun were all that they noticed. And then, probably they sensed some seasons. Okay, now we will get fruit.. Now we will get snow. And so on. And then, when things started repeating seasonally, they found out that there is a concept called a Year. Much much later than that only, did they bother about subdividing the day into smaller slices. He saw Hours. For a very long time, the hours were enough. A sundial could tell their time. Then, they wanted minutes, then they wanted seconds. And today, if you launch a Google search, you want the results before 0.04 seconds elapse, otherwise you start wondering if Google servers are down! Because, today, we are dealing with microseconds and milliseconds. It is an accelerating clock. But the author says, you don’t need to be on this bandwagon. You don’t need to think we are accelerating, everything is going faster, we just have to keep up with it. No. Remember. The faster you go, the slower time actually becomes. Thank you, Dr. Albert Einstein.

Dr. Einstein has explained the theory of relativity in many different, interesting ways. You may even remember this beautiful example. “When you are with a nice girl, an hour seems like a second, when you sit on a red hot pan for a second, it seems like an hour. That’s relativity!” But, this author, Dr. Benjamin Hardy, brings out three important precepts from Dr. Einstein’s theory and lays it out to the common man.

He says, the most important thing Dr. Einstein said was “Space is not a constant. Distances are deceptive. Long and Short are relative”. And then, he also said, “Time is not a constant. Durations are deceptive. Long and Short are, again, relative”. He says, “There is only ONE constant in the world. And, that is the speed of light. Everything in the Universe revolves around that single unchanging constant”. When the book claims to be about time-hacking and productivity, why is this author talking about Dr. Einstein and relativity till almost the third chapter? Well, the author wants to bring home a very very important concept. He says, the faster you go, time slows down. The fastest you go? At the speed of light? Time stops! So, if you are a beam of light…

if you are at that edge, that red photon, at the edge of everything… well, for you, time actually stops! And then, he gives examples. Haven’t you heard of Flow? What do you think Flow is? When you are enjoying it so well, time seems to stop. And then, the other quotation that we have seen often. Enjoy the journey.. Not the destination. Well, that is because a light-beam has no destination. As far as it is concerned, there is no concept of, I am here right now, and in a short while, I will be there. It is there. It is everywhere. That is the beauty of the light-beam. It has no sense because it has every sense. Beautifully, in very simple plain terms, the author morphs these derivations from the Theory of Relativity.

And then, he asks us a very important question. Hey, I have been talking to you about time and relativity all this while.. Is YOUR TIME fast or slow?
Do you have any sense about that?

For example, we have all heard of Tim Ferris and his 4-hour workweek. That is, he achieves in four hours, what everybody else takes 40 hours to do, and in the rest of the time, like is shown in the picture, a hammock in a Hawaiian island. He is not enjoying it like that, but he is saying, that is the kind of enjoyment that’s possible! Similarly, if he is able to achieve in 4 what we take 40 to do, do you understand what his time-pace is?

Next, he brings up the example of the famous fable about Bill Gates. Once upon a time, Bill was so rich, that if he actually drops a one-dollar-note on to the ground, he should not lean forward and pick it up, it seems.. Because, in the time it takes for Bill Gates to lean forward and pick it up, he would have made more money if he had been running Microsoft. For, Microsoft was such a money-making engine, at that time! Again, what is your pace? Is it fast?
Is it slow? Is it like Tim Ferris? Is it like Bill Gates? That is the question. And he offers a simple solution too.

To find out if we are slow or fast! Remember the quote from Steve Jobs. Whose agenda are you living? If you are clocking time for somebody, matching somebody else’s expectations, according to somebody else’s schedules, … well, your time cannot be fast. Your time will be slow. Only when you move fast, your time will FEEL slow. Don’t forget that! So, to move fast, you should be on YOUR OWN agenda, he says.

While talking about time, he recalls that oft-mentioned phrase that says “There is no gift better than the gift of time”. It is a really beautiful quote.
The time you spend with others, the time you give them physically and emotionally, it is precious! The gift of time…! He takes it to a further twist, and says, Yes, the time we spend with others is precious, but, the time you can create for others? It is priceless! A sense of service! A sense of helping!
Take Bill Gates himself, for example. What he did during the prime of his career was not only speed up HIS clock so time went slow for him, he actually sped the clock up for all of mankind! An operating system like Windows,
a company like Microsoft, a productivity suite, when he went distributing it all around the world, every one of them became empowered and more productive, and he actually sped everybody up! So, create time for others. That is the greatest gift you can give people!

Next, he heads out to Hollywood. A sci-fi thriller movie titled “In Time”. Starring Justin Timberlake. In the context of today’s Quotidian, the most important philosophy that we need to internalise from this movie is, “Time is Money”! Because, in this story, everybody is frozen at the age of 25! They are all frozen. Their age simply won’t go higher than 25. But, they have a counting-down clock on their hands. If they work well, time will be loaded into their hands. If they have a coffee break, the cost of the coffee will be sucked out of their clock. And, when the clock says ZERO, the person dies. Watch it. A very interesting movie. If you get the opportunity, please watch and share your comments.

The interesting concept that he leads us on to is typically a science-fiction concept.. It is not really been “found” in reality. It is called a Wormhole. What is a wormhole? In space-and-time, if you are at Point A, and you want to get to Point Z, typically, there is only one linear path, you go from A to B to C to D to E to F all the way to Z… But, if you can warp space-and-time, if you can fold the rubber-sheet of space-and-time back on to itself, using a very powerful force, it can actually create a bridge, they call it the Einstein-Rosen bridge, and if you have watched the Avengers, Thor actually moves around using such a bridge, and this bridge can help you go from A to Z directly! It is similar to going from Age 20 to Age 40, just because you had a bonanza. And, that is the slipstream the author keeps referring to. And the whole idea of the book is to find and grab these slipstream opportunities.

It is not something unknown to migratory birds, of course. A bird, when migrating as a group, they typically fly in a V-formation. The story is quite famous. The leader goes up front. Only he can withstand and overcome the wind-resistance. Strong wings and all that. And, if he gets tired, there is a role-exchange that happens, a second bird gets into the leadership position, and in the slipstream that he creates in its wake, turbulence is less, resistance is lower, the birds behind can fly along smoother, with lesser effort, and that is the concept behind this formation.

You can see this enacted in cycle-racing too. In the famous marathon cycling competition called ‘Tour de France’, for example, there is a concept called the peloton. A peloton is actually a “small ball” in French. Why such a name? Look at the clumping! See how packed these cyclists are? And, why are they like that? To reduce the effort required for the genius cyclist in the middle of the peloton, they place some cyclists who will pedal hard and tear through the wind. To help the ones coming behind. And, if the wind is on the back, to give a good push overall to the peloton, they form a wide rear. The whole technique in cycling and winning such a tour, a long distance cycle marathon, is this:- You grab the right peloton and get help from their slipstreams, and at the right moment, jump to the next peloton. I would call this the best takeaway from this book, in fact. You work under a great leader, an amazing teacher perhaps, but, a time will come when you will get a wormhole opportunity… a discontinuous jump might be possible, you need to be ready to take that jump.

To take that jump, there are four important stages.. Firstly, you need to acknowledge that there exist jumps like these. Secondly, there has to be the desire to jump. Thirdly, you need to be confident that you have it in you to make these jumps. And finally, this is the rub.. this is the secret trick.. you need to CLOSE THE DOOR behind you! You need to say, enough is enough, I have left my parachute there, I am going to take my leap of faith… If you can succeed in doing that, like they always say, the universe will conspire to form a path for you to go forward, says the author.

This is not a new concept, really. All our lives, mankind has been riding slipstreams, the author says. Just think about it, .. every one of us has achieved progress only because of events in history. Our parents, our teachers, we have derived benefits from them all.

If we didn’t have a facility like the internet, can I be talking to you? If an Alexander Graham Bell didn’t exist, can the internet even be there? We can keep going back all the way. So, slipstreaming is not a new concept.. But, to make you realise that there is such a concept, and that you can create a wormhole opportunity, and even ride a slipstream, that is the greatest gift that this book gives.

Finally, something that made my hair stand on end! Chapter 9… It is not important if you believe in a God… or not. But, you do know that there is this concept called God that people keep talking about, don’t you? Well, that is what the author comes around to. He says,… “Light, Time, and God” is the name of the chapter… What exactly is God? Who is He? God is Light, he says. Why? Well, remember the light-beam, and the end of the beam that we talked about earlier? When it is travelling at the speed of light, all of time becomes a single instant. It has no understanding of anything else except “Now”. No past. No future. Now is the only time it knows. Do you understand now perhaps, why people say “God is testing me.. It is so long since I offered my prayers and shared my hopeful wishes with Him, … but he hasn’t still granted them”… Well, according to the author, God is Light, and at Lightspeed, … he is actually answering you instantaneously…! Do you get the point? The Point?! And similarly, when you are going at the speed of light, all of space, however large the universe is, is actually a single microscopic point. And so, you can’t really do anything without God noticing it! He is omniscient! He is omnipresent! Why, God is Light! And, that is how he winds down this beautiful essay! Well, I have read about God, I have read essays on the Theory of Relativity, Space and Time, but to propose such a connection.. I am not sure anybody else has attempted this! It sounded so interesting and unique.
Lovely, lovely writing exercise, I would say.

Finally, the closing thought was the beautiful description he gave for the word “Decision”. Decision? To decide.. We all know the word. But, do you know where that word comes from?! “decidere” is the Latin form. “de” + “caedere”. Each root meaning “off” and “cut” respectively. Do you get it now? Decision means to cut off! Cut off all that is unnecessary and retain only that final single most important direction forward.. So, if you are going to decide on something, it basically means you are chopping away all that is unnecessary. I really loved that point. I am sure you do too! Let us meet again, soon, in the next Quotidian! Namaste!



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Rajendran Dandapani

Rajendran Dandapani


Business Solutions Evangelist at Zoho Corp. President at The Zoho Schools Of Learning.