Words Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen | Picture Sam Mgrdichian

I’ve always been a little curious about the concept of time.  Not sure if it is an age thing – been told time seems to go faster with the increase of age but the speed at how time moves at this point, makes it even more of a necessity than curiosity.  What better time to write about it than now, when we just entered into a new year? 

While doing my morning run this morning, as usual, I entered 30 minutes on the timer of my smartphone.  This brings me further to the nagging feeling of time and its relativity.

Physicists everywhere denote time as a second-class status, meaning they don’t believe that time exists. Einstein believed time is an illusion and that it is relative; the rate of how time passes lies on our frame of reference. While we feel the psychological effect of time in our lives, time itself is unreal.  Then you start asking yourself, if time is not real, why do we get older?  If it’s all in our mind, why do we age and with time, wither and die?

A watch is not my accessory of choice.  Even the smallest, daintiest ones will look chunky on me.  Never understand why but that’s a topic for another time.  I was in a coffee shop in Los Angeles once, wanting to know the time and left my phone in the car – yes, my phone, my source of knowing whether or not I’m lagging behind or otherwise.  I asked an elderly gentleman standing in the queue in front of me.  He turned, gave me a nice toothy smile and said, “Time is what you want it to be”. I wasn’t sure at first whether it was the Los Angeles in him, you know the airy, artsy, yogic type, or he’s just trying to be cheeky.  I smiled back and said “Then, let it be the time I wouldn’t be late for my next appointment because this coffee line is surely taking a hell of a long time.”  He laughed and we got talking about time.

He used to be what people call a corporate climber in Chicago and after a long time of doing so, found himself getting all jittery and anxious.  To cut the story short, he decided to pack his bags and “semi-retire” in Los Angeles, the city known for its arts and relaxed living, if you have the money, of course – which I believe he does.   The thing about taking it easy, according to him, time seems to slow down considerably.  The first few months were hard to adjust.  After all, what does one do with all the free time and not much work to do?  Things started looking better when he got himself immersed in the community.  He takes up painting again, a passion which he is still crazy about but lacks the time to do when he is busy in Chicago.  He’s also taken up reading; all the books he bought but never had the chance to read.  Most days, he wakes up, surfs and then go onto the computer to work a little.  Then, read, paint, cook and meet up with friends. Time has slowed down and he manages to do much more now that he’s taking time a little easy. 

Time and again, I question; shouldn’t more things get done when we are rushing and filling our plate with lists of things to do and not otherwise? We live in a society which gives applause, precedence and priority to those who strive to do more.  Every little time not utilised is seen as wasted.

We fill our days with every activity possible, hoping to fill up time and be seen and felt as more productive – but is it?  Is filling up time and doing more, productive or is it just the mindset that has been ingrained?

The fact is, as I researched, talked to more people, and delved even more into this subject, many seem to agree that time has no beginning and also no end.  You cannot create or destroy time but your actions and how time is used can create or destroy the time given to you. 

Objective time can also be called real time. Regular motions such as the earth itself and its rotation around the sun are essential for real time.

Ancient civilizations in the past use regular motions of the earth and its rotation around the sun to organize their lives.

While the Babylonians divided the year into 12 equal parts and the day into 24 hours, according to the solar calendar back in 2,400 B.C., the Islamic calendar divided the year into 354 or 355 days. The lunar calendar breaks the year into 12 months, based on the orbit of the moon around earth.

Fast forward, time currently is seen as a continued sequence of existence and events that occur in irreversible succession from the past through the present.  The concept of time marvels yet scares me.  Though I’m very well aware of the fact that time is irreversible, saying it out loud intimidates me.  Time is almost always connected to our mortality.  After all, that is the cycle of life.  The fear of ongoing time correlates with the fact that with every tick of the clock, we are closer to leaving behind everything we know and moving along to another dimension we’ve often heard of but can never be sure what it entails.

Time is contradictory; it makes, it breaks, it gives pain and yet most time, it heals.  The moving of time grows a person yet sometimes that growth is stunted due to the rapid movement of time – when the coping gets tough.

How can time be so fluid yet hold so much importance in our lives? 

The mystery of time continues.

For better or for worse, we know time is there to clock us.  Make time matter, whatever length of it we are granted because perhaps if we are devoid of time, life also loses its meaning.