Time, Time! Wherefore Art Thou Time?

I live by the clock. I hurtle down those rocky hills of inconstant life and pick up the pace as I go. My descent is measured in nanoseconds. Defined as one billionth of a second, a nanosecond is a tiny fragment of time in which a falling raindrop is immobile (Gleick, 1999). Isn’t that astounding? Although it’s hard to grasp, this knowledge—that such small intervals exist—keeps me on my toes. I haven’t a moment to lose.

But it’s a problem, an age old problem. Take Virgil, the Roman poet (70-19 BC). “But meanwhile,” he said, “it is flying, inevitable time is flying.” And in 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte barked to one of his aides, “ . . . don’t forget that the world was made in six days. You can ask me for anything you like, except time.” Then, Benjamin Franklin, in 1746, noted that, “Lost time is never found again.” Ah, the anxiety.

Unmistakenly, and through the ages, the need to overtake time has been an issue for many. Hurrying is, in fact, a universal preference for managing life’s various tasks. We raise the speed limit on highways, buy souped-up computers, and we yearn, still, for the Concorde, the supersonic commercial airliner retired in 2003. That beauty flew to London in 3 ½ hours at Mach 2.04, in other words, at slightly over twice the speed of sound (about 1350 mph depending on the temperture of the surrounding air at the time of flight).

So it seems that the tick tick tick of that perennial clock, biological or otherwise, is rushing by faster than ever. We hustle along in the same meteoric fashion, racing to save time for some other activity that needs to be raced through as well, and life zooms by with just a glance.

Well, I believe that it’s time to reinvent ourselves, to rework our timely habits so that life slows down a little and becomes richer, broader, more rain forest lush. Is that possible?

The concept of reinvention requires thought, though. When I encounter what I interpret as an urgent pursuit, one that requires excessive amounts of energy, that forces my blood to flow faster, my heart to pump loudly, and my muscles to cramp, demanding too much of me too quickly, I brood about it: after the event, of course, never in advance. And it strikes me, again, that my habitually rapid pace must change. It’s not worth the physical or emotional effort. I want to smell the roses. How about you?

Do you want to join me in reprogramming life, in shouting out the new battle cry, SLOW DOWN!

What do you think? Can we do it? Maybe. Maybe not.