What is time? As I check, the watch and microwave are a few minutes out, but they measure the same construct of time and its passing. As a thing time doesn’t exist. You cannot capture a handful of time, there is no physicality to it. We’re all too aware of its passing however. Thirty year olds fret over unfertilised eggs. Receding hairlines ask questions of youth. If you’re very lucky you’ll be in a state of flow, entirely ignorant of time passing because you are so absorbed in a task that brings enjoyment (something I’ve touched on previously by Czsitszentmihalyi) time seems to have ceased to exist as if banished from consciousness.
An easy mistake might be to think that if it were only possible to remain in a flow state, time would never pass by. I tried it, doesn’t work. Jokes aside, what does time really mean to us? Phrases like the following are frequently used:
- time is money
- what a waste of time
- show me the money and I’ll show you the time
- I don’t have the time
What do they actually mean when broken down? The semantic structure and intent of these phrases; what are they?
In essence time is about the most precious commodity a human being can have, despite never knowing how much of it we will experience. I use the word ‘experience’ because time is an experience rather than something we can ever actively own. No one owns time. If every time telling device were destroyed this instant, nothing would change except that you might read too much and miss a bus to work. Time here, in Edinburgh, is the same as time in Fiji or the South Pole. Time just happens.
Why do we have the phrase ‘time is money’? Because time is the most valuable thing you can expend on any activity, person or venture. Think of the time you donate to TV adverts. Minutes become hours over years of watching. How fruitless. You and I voluntarily gifted some of our finite and unpredictable resource. Unless some sort of rabid advertisement connoisseur, then that time is gone. Even if you don’t buy any of the products, consciously or subconsciously, your time went straight into their brimming pocket. The pocket is empty, but it’s full of time.
Time cannot be returned only given. Be wise and careful about who gets your time. And if you read this, thank you sincerely for it.