Custom Search

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Time’s Up! (A Rather Silly Essay about the Existence of Time)

image from
Note: This essay was originally entitled "Time? What Time?" and was written on April 29, 2000 (Can’t believe it’s been that long!). It was first edited on December 24, 2000 (which involved the insertion of another essay entitled “When Did You Say? Now?” among other things) and was given a new title “The Time Is Now, But Is ‘Now’ Time?” Latest editing was done on August 14, 2008 (Title changed once again).

"Teet... teet... teet..."

You let out a growl as you reach out your hand and slam it down on the little battery-operated clock sitting on your bedside table. You swing your legs around and sit yourself up on the edge of your bed and plant your feet on the floor. You then contort your body and face while holding your breath as if struggling to escape from an invisible goop.

It's another day.

You looked at the clock. Ah! There's still time to have a cup of coffee before going off to work. You rush into the kitchen with a smile on your face, happy to be able to tame the furious beast that is your hungry stomach with that hot cup of coffee. Even if "having enough time" means that you will have to pour the hot coffee down your throat so fast that you'll be numb from the tip of your tongue down to the walls of your stomach 'til some time in the afternoon.

After throwing your coffee cup into the kitchen sink, you go flying out your door, into your car and speed off to the office, arriving there in the nick of time.

You scan through your PDA to check your appointments. You let out a long sigh. You're once again booked for the entire day. Meetings in the morning, and more meetings in the afternoon. The closest thing you're going to get to a break is lunch, which actually is also a meeting with a client who invited you over for lunch to talk about business.

There are a lot of people out there who live through this scenario everyday. Most of them live their days as if it were the last day of their lives, always rushing around, always doing something, working 'round the clock to a point that they don't have anymore time for recreation or even a pleasant night's sleep. To some, their being so engrossed in whatever it is that they're doing would make their year seem like an extremely long day.

Day, year... then there's the second, minute, hour, week, month, year, decade, century, millennia... "Nine o'clock in the evening, Tuesday, twelfth of December, 2000AD"… lunch time, dinner time, bed time. These are the forms by which "time" is familiar to us, the numbers that we see on our calendars, clocks, watches, computers, cellular phones, etc.

Time, it's there when you wake up, it's there when you go to bed, and it's still there even after you've already fallen asleep. We set our activities around time. The time we wake up in the morning, the time we leave home for work so that we will get there before the time the office opens for business. Then we look at our watches from time to time, anticipating the time we stop working and leave the workplace. Then we have our dinner, and look at the clock to see if our favorite TV show is about to start. Then after that we go to bed, some of us even count the number of hours he or she will be able to sleep before he or she has to wake up and do the exact same thing once again.

There's time for work, there's time for rest, there's time for play, and there's time for sleep. There's time for breakfast, there's time for lunch, and there's time for dinner. There's time for absolutely everything.

Or is there?

What is it that these numbers and words tell us? I mean, the numbers and words that we see on our clocks and calendars. Just what is it really that these things tell us?

We say that a year has three hundred and sixty-five days. At the same time, it also has twelve months among which the three hundred and sixty-five days are divided somewhat equally. The months are thirty to thirty one days long except for February, which has only twenty-eight (or twenty-nine) days. Each day is divided into twenty-four hours, and each hour is divided into sixty minutes, and each minute is divided into sixty seconds and so on and so on.

Technically, the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years that we know of now are merely divisions of the cycles that we and this planet go through over and over again. The sun rises, the sun sets, a day has passed. Then the sun rises again. We call it "another day". That's basically it.

Time is ever present... or so we think… or should I say we're made to believe it is and have to believe it is. BUT... is there really such a thing as time?

What if time never became what it is now? No numbers, no names for the days nor names for the months. I mean, nothing. We will then be left with only the heavenly bodies to tell us the "time". As a result of that we will probably have only "day" and "night" for the times of a day, and probably the "seasons" for the times of a year (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall). To be able to indicate anything more specific or more detailed than that will require an enormous amount of knowledge in Astronomy.

Well, the movements of the heavenly bodies are just that, movements. And it just happens that everything moves in an elliptical/circular motion/pattern, which is basically the reason why things reappear every now and then. And these cyclic/repetitive occurrences provide us with a convenient way to tell time.

Permit me to move away from reality for a while. What if the heavenly bodies were not spinning and everything out there moved in a straight infinite line at the same exact speed and at the same exact direction making everything in the sky seem motionless? How then will we be able to tell time when all you see are people growing old, trees growing bigger and other similar things? Can we say that there's "time" then, when growth is a natural phenomenon that almost all, if not all, living things experience?

Another thing... what’s this thing we call "now" or the "present time".

Has anybody wondered how long "now" or "the present time" lasts? When all that has occurred is already past the moment they occurred and all that has yet to occur is still a future occurrence? When the next word I'm going to write is still future and those that I've just written are already past? When the next step that I'm about to take is still future and as my feet touched the ground it is already past? So, is there really such a moment as "the present time"?
The word "present" is defined in the Webster's Dictionary as "of or at this time". Time... for how long do you think 12:00:00 will stay 12:00:00? Not even long enough for you to blink your eyes. If we are to be more specific, there would be two more digits after the seconds digits (as we see in most digital watches), and perhaps more after that. Take this as an example. If you want to know how much time it will take for light to travel a mile (speed of light = 372,000 mi/sec) you will have to divide 1 second into 372,000 parts. That will result to quite a number of digits after the seconds digits. Remember that these following digits will be ticking away a whole lot faster than their preceding digits. Now, how long will you say 12:00:00 will remain exactly 12:00:00?


December 24, 2000
6:38 pm

Last edited on August 14, 2008
9:33 am


blog comments powered by Disqus

blogger templates | Make Money Online