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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Time: A Mystery Without Meaning

People love to profess all these wonderful, learned things about time. They use their intelligence and collected wisdom to tell you how how to value it, how to employ it, and how to squeeze every minute from it. The truth is no one knows jack about time. If they did, we could have a planet of blissful and natural inhabitants instead of discontented, rash reactionaries.

We don't even know what time is. We don't know what causes time. We don't know when time began. We don't know how to measure it with exactness. We don't know why time slows in gravity or slows in motion. We don't know why we should use it in certain ways. We don't know whether time is a dimension.

We all -- regular Joe to brainiac to sage -- are basically time dumb asses, and I assure you we will remain that way until "our time passes."

When it comes to understanding concepts of time, I tend to think like Henry David Thoreau who once said: "Time is just the stream I go a-fishing in." This fine quote speaks with proper perspective and adequate admission of uncertainty.

Maybe Albert Einstein did know a little more than most of the rest of us about time, but I can't help but believe that if he were alive today, Einstein would say, "Well, you know that stuff I told you about relativity and the fabric of time? Well, scratch that because I did some bad calculations, and since I died in 1955, I've rethought a few of my theories."

Believe me, reader, you don't understand time. You (like me) parrot stupid advice about the subject because you have heard it so often. Give me, an old-time a chance to explain the folly of our ways.

* Don't Waste Time

People love to tell others not to waste time. Why? In the first place, how do you "waste" something without a conceivable end? For example, I can see how people may waste electricity because its generation depends on limited resources. But how can you waste something that continues indefinitely? And time certainly doesn't decay or decompose because a lot of people are "wasting" it: it simply passes. And, if this universe ever implodes, I'm pretty sure time will march right ahead.

What should we do with our "time"? Beats me. Most people want others to be industrious when they say "don't waste time." Yet, the most pleasurable times of my life have occurred when I was simply wasting time -- relaxing with friends, vacationing to new places, eating and drinking, listening to music, or catching a restful nap. Wasting time can often brighten my darkest days. In fact, these times "wasted" are often the hours I feel most free and unencumbered by negativity.

* Spend Time As If Every Day Were Your Last

Then, people also love to preach "spend every day as if it were your last." Now, if I knew my time was up in 24 hours, I would probably engage in quite a few selfish, egotistical activities that would require others to change their important schedules and cater to my rash wishes. That is simply something many loved ones would not enjoy doing.

And, to live with the end in mind would prove impossible. I couldn't jam all the good stuff into 24 hours anyway without great financial and physical means and an air of accelerated, senseless appreciation of my being. I mean, who would take you seriously when you told them you just might check out each and every day. "Hey, man, I'm just living every day as if I'm not going to be around tomorrow." Sooner or later, they would probably be glad to see you go.

And, I think about this: I have seen quite a few souls who knew they had just a day or two left on earth, and most of them were not living that time in a particularly attractive manner. Many of these now-departed souls were in great pain and in feeble mind during their last hours. I would say if people could "live every day as if were their last," many would be sorely disappointed all the time.

* Time Heals All Wounds

Of course, people love to tell others "time heals all wounds." Here is a news flash: time cannot heal. I believe some doctors, God, and peace of mind can heal, but time doesn't automatically diagnose your illnesses and remedy your woes. Pain can last indefinitely ... both physical and mental pain may persist ad nauseam. Ask severely injured people about time schedules for healing. The process of becoming whole does not operate within minutes, hours, days, years, decades, or even lifetimes.

I think for many of us "time heals" in the sense that we "learn" to forget and repress things while it passes. How about a new expression? I like "time numbs ... to some extent." Combine this with "accurate memory fades with time" and I believe the old saying about time healing our ills is closer to the truth.

* Time Is Money

Well, thank old Ben Franklin for this next observation: "Time is money." That idea suggests no time should be taken to philosophize or to digest information. Inefficiency can cost money, but some busy people believe the answer to great production is to jump right into the task and "git-r-done" like Larry the Cable Guy. This idea makes craftsmen shudder and those who believe in quality settle for producing junk.

"Time is money" pretty much kills the process of believing in essential trial and error, too. No wonder we settle for goods that last "for a while" as opposed to lasting "like they should." It honestly should take time to design and produce anything lasting and even more time to make sure quality exists before the public spends its precious money to purchase the product.

And, I ask you, if time is money, why do people work so damn hard not to work? Don't they realize that "time is money." Give me a break, no one believes they make enough money for putting in their time. People who make the best money have made a science out of avoiding work. For far too many, survival money is minimum wage. If time was money, those who wash dishes should make $50.00 an hour for their labor. My revision of this cliche: "Time and money are strange bedfellows."

* Don't Live Behind the Times

People love to say "don't live behind the times." Why not? This philosophy suggests some pretty strange reasoning. I assume this means keeping up is good. If being current is good, then being "ahead of the times" must be even better. Yet, this may or may not be true. Being "ahead of the times" may lead to rejection and to being ostracized because of strange proclivities. Society tends to reject those with forward thinking: these people often suffer during their lifetimes.

How ridiculous for me, a 63-year-old man, to believe I can be viewed "normal" if I follow fashion and new trends. If I decide to be a geezer twerking my ancient booty, I am sure to be the subject of ridicule. Let me be frank about Frank: my "times" are gone. They breathed their last gasps somewhere in the mid-1970s. I could race to keep up but my speed is now a slow walk.

Besides, choosing to be "behind the times" can lead to tranquility and a renewed appreciation for the past. How in the hell can anyone gauge what they know as "the times" anyway? A passing thought instantly becomes "behind the times." Racing to keep up with time can also lead to hypertension and other health problems, not to mention missing the honest "savor" of simply living and breathing.

* No Time Like the Present

And, that's enough about the past. Don't most people also love to profess "there is no time like the present." Perhaps much of the rash action we witness is due to this unfounded statement. 50% of those who enter wedlock experience their reality of "the right time" to share their lives with someone else to be bullshit. They rage against love; they hate; and they divorce, only to remarry and start the process all over again. Their idea of being able to live an "undying love" in the present tense somehow sours into a past mistake.

Besides, the present is actually an impossible state of being. It is brief mental awareness. Just as soon as a thought enters our brain and manifests itself into a decision and an eventual action, the present has faded. The present is a fleeting moment, whatever is happening now (present) is confined to an infinitesimally narrow point on the time line which is being encroached upon by what we think of as the past and the future.

What little "present" we rashly execute in a skewed actuality of a Webster's definition without much thought or reason -- it is simply energy knee-jerked into existence.

* You Can't Turn Back Time

I hear those insightful folks who claim "you cannot turn back the clock." Now, I believe in moving on and not dwelling too much on past mistakes; however, if we truly can't regain younger days, why do people spend millions on cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and procedures to recapture the illusion of youth? The reality is more than Madison Avenue is responsible. The gullible and the willing true believers are constantly "turning back the clock" because they need something they now miss.

Besides, I defy you to accurately judge age, maturity, and beauty with silly notions about time. You can't even judge what appears to be a human in whom time has appeared to "stand still."

And, this is not just a saying that claims advice for physical matters, it also suggests the past has lasting relevance that must be endured no matter the consequences. I believe in going back to past when needed -- apologies, changes, vows, traditions, recognitions -- all require "turning back the clock."

And, how about a time machine? Science contends that the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest atom smasher, could be the first machine capable of causing matter to travel backwards in time. It has something to do with the Higgs boson and the Higgs singlet. My tiny brain cannot explain anything about the research, yet some scientists claim belief in the theories.

And, for God's sake, don't tell psychics time travel is impossible. These sensitive, supernatural saps have no problem traversing time in their minds and altered states of consciousness. They spend more time out of the bounds of this planet than they do within. Doesn't the Number One Best Seller of All Time, the Bible put faith in things like visions and dreams?

* Time Will Tell

This well-known expression implies that answers to vexing questions and problems will be revealed over the passage of time. It reminds of the line in the hymn: "Further along we'll know more about it." People apply this to a temporal existence, but many Earthlings find that time keeps its most intriguing secrets without the slightest revelation of meaning. Time does not always, or even most often, "tell" anything as it passes. Much of what is deemed true today was fiction 100 years ago, and today's understandings will prove wrong in good time.

Instead of living comfortably with constant changes, people let time pass and find opinions and beliefs that match their own preferred interpretation of answers to pressing questions. Despite research and clinical study, most depend upon their intuition to "tell" them what to do. "What feels right" rules and conquers logical acceptance. Time serves to tell these folks that their answer will be revealed "just around the next bend" and they are "on course" with their good hearts headed straight for the Promised Land.

I believe if "time tells" truly any smidgeon of absolute advice, the information is full of doubt. The problem goes right back to the misunderstanding of time itself. In his finite brain, man believes time owes an explanation for its nature. People like to say, "It's just a matter of time" when they don't have the slightest conception of what matter (or lack of matter) comprises time. For millions and millions of years, time has "told" man nothing. It may be more accurate to say we are unwilling prisoners of time.

Last Take on Time

I love thinking about time. I see it as the ultimate mystery. Still, I know pretty much nothing about it. And, it's pretty strange to be governed by an entity I cannot define -- and, God knows, it is a strict, sure governor. I do believe people have many misconceptions about time. The people who are convinced they know the most like physicists deal in theories.

Writer and physicist Paul Davies has called "time" Einstein’s unfinished revolution. Davies says there is an underlying process of motion and forces from which time emerges, however what we perceive as time is mostly an illusion. Our memory creates the illusion of the past. Conscious perception of
events gives the feeling of present. Future is a mental construct patterned on the memory experience of the past. Our concept of time emerges as our mind tries to make sense of the world around us which is filled with change.

If we measure time by comparing one standard motion against another, time may not have any independent existence. It seems time and clocks are used for convenience. If time is really "nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once," time, as we know it, may be simply a way of arranging events. Thinking about anything absolute concerning time is frustrating to me, so I choose to look for that "stream" Thoreau was talking about and "go fishing" during my existence.
'Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once.'

Read more:

Postulates of Special Relativity, violation of time-reversal symmetry, radioactive decay, Parity and Time symmetry, interlocking space and time -- it's all Greek horseshit to me.

All Things Are Current Found

ALL things are current found
On earthly ground,
Spirits and elements
Have their descents.

Night and day, year on year,
High and low, far and near,
These are our own aspects,
These are our own regrets.

Ye gods of the shore,
Who abide evermore,
I see you far headland,
Stretching on either hand;

I hear the sweet evening sounds
From your undecaying grounds;
Cheat me no more with time,
Take me to your clime.

--Henry David Thoreau

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