Cats will happily spend an entire day lazing about, sleeping, and staring out the window. Would they still do this if they had a concept of time?
“Spend” time? “Invest” time in something? “Save” time? Time is “money”? Why do we commoditise time? Why do attribute a finite value to time and then behave as if we have infinite amounts of it? And why is passing the time seen as a waste of time?
It seems as though we’re in constant conflict. And that’s because we don’t know how much time we have. But we’d like to think we have lots of it. So we busy ourselves with finding productive ways to fill our time so that we can convince ourselves that we made a difference. That our time was well spent because we did something meaningful with it. And yet, we berate ourselves when we simply allow time to pass us by. Because we can never get it back. And so, we have wasted that opportunity to make a mark. To do something productive. To give our existence meaning.
The fact is, no matter what you do with your time, time flies. So, instead of feeling the pressure to fill it, spend it, save it, perhaps we should be thinking about something else entirely.
Time is Ours
Time doesn’t exist anywhere else. At least, not as we know it. In fact, time is only relevant to us here on Earth. Days, minutes, hours, months, years. These are all arbitrary concepts that don’t apply anywhere else but Earth. They are determined by our position in the universe and our movement around the sun, as well as the speed of the rotation around our axis.
For everywhere else outside of Earth, time is different.
Consider other Earthly measurements. We calculate distance based on fixed lengths that have been long established as the standard. Metres, feet, miles, kilometres, and everything in between. Someone, at some point, decided that certain lengths were going to be named and correspond to given distances, each interrelated and offering a variety of denominations. All in a bid to make sense of the world. Earth. Nowhere else.
Just like trying to get your head around how big a billion is in comparison to a million, for example. A million seconds is 11.5 days. Whereas a billion seconds is 31.75 years. That’s why we also measure distances in space by something relevant to us here on Earth. It’s easier to quantify and understand. So, we measure distances in space in light-years. The distance light travels in an Earth year.
But again, that’s only relevant to us. No one else in the universe. Just like time.
So, if time only has significance because we give it relevance, what if we didn’t? What if time didn’t exist? At least, not the way we now know it.
Be More Cat
Here’s the crux. At some point in history, there was a time when time as we know it didn’t exist. We had no concept of hours, weeks, months, or years. Just day and night. No birthdays, no anniversaries, no age. Just existence.
Which therefore begs the question, how would we live and behave if we weren’t keeping time? If we didn’t know anything more than day and night? How would we use our time?
Sleep when it’s dark. Eat when you’re hungry. And fill in the gaps in between as you wish.
Our obsession with time keeps us rushing from one activity, one job, one meeting to the next. We have completely scheduled our lives. We set alarms to wake us up. We make sure we eat at certain times of the day. Our lives are governed by time. And because we’ve filled it so much, we try to find ways to save time in order to spend that time on other things to fill up our day. We are painfully aware of how much time we think we have and don’t want to waste any of it.
But what if we didn’t know how much time we had?
Would we do things differently?
Maybe, it’s about time we re-evaluated what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Because, if time only has significance to us here on Earth, because we’ve given it significance, then we can change the rules of the game.
Perhaps, instead, like a cat, we should choose to live in the moment.
After all, our time is our own.
And that’s about it.