The passage of time

What a curious beast. Created before us, out of our control, dictating rituals, setting signposts, measured in a variety of ways, perceived by our reality and our mood, conscious and subconscious, in the here and now.

The passage of time is a curious beast, and yet so clearly defined by physics. It happens as it does due to, by my understanding, the alignment of earth with the sun and the moon, the rotation of the earth on its axis, the movement of the moon around the earth, the earth around the sun and the angle of that axis in relation to the sun. What child does not believe the moon follows them at night and is not curious about where it goes to during the day. How many of us feel the sun on our skin and take for granted that the sun will again rise tomorrow? Seasons come and go in their predictable sequence, day and night, the rise and fall of the tides, the ticking of clocks…man’s mechanical way of measuring the passage of time.

The passage of time is a curious beast because we measure time differently.

Before mechanical clocks as we know them, time was measured by a variety of methods. The shadows on sundials, such as the giant sundial in Jaipur, shadows in sunken wells, shadows cast by standing stones and obelisks, such as Stonehenge and the Luxor obelisk in Paris. In the absence of sun; moon dials, merkhet or star clocks, water dripping through water clocks, candles or incense burning and sand falling in hour glasses. Church Bells were rung on the hour and time balls were dropped for mariners to set their chronometers.

The passage of time is a curious beast because we need to know about it for constantly evolving reasons.

The need to know the time has changed with the passage of time.

The temple at Abu Simbel, built in recognition of Ramses II is illuminated twice a year as the sun alignes with the entrance: February 22nd and October 22nd denoting not only the birth and coronation of Ramses II but the cycle of agriculture, cultivation and flooding. The re appearance of the stars of Matariki in the North eastern sky before dawn signify the Maori new year and a time to celebrate the harvest of crops. I am in awe of the knowledge and skills of old and ancient communities . Historically the tides and seasons led us to exists harmoniously with nature. Now-a-days, we need to know the time to catch a plane, train or bus, to make a meeting, to take our meds, to go to school or work, the gym or home, simply we need to know the time so our day runs smoothly. And what if we lose track of time? For each of us time has a different meaning…and mostly what I hear around me is…there is not enough time.

Time is a curious beast because we experience time differently.

I will never, ever get used to, in the Southern Hemisphere; Christmas in the summer, Easter and the idea of new life in the autumn, long cold July nights, and the long hot days in February. It is strange when I ring my mother and I have just got up and she is going to bed, incredible that you can travel somewhere and arrive before you left, or lose a day entirely…I know…21st century problems. If I were on the moon or in a space station, what would the time be I wonder?

Time is a curious beast because time is a constant and yet rarely seems so.

Why is it that when things are good and we are having fun, time passes so quickly or seems to, and when things are dull and we are not enjoying them time slows down and becomes intolerably slow, or so it seems. Monotony can make time slow down, routine can help the passage of time.

I recently went to watch the film Walk with me, “A cinematic journey into the world of a monastic community that practises the art of mindfulness with Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh”. One and a half hours went in a moment. A few years ago, I did a sky dive ( please don’t ask me why), the 50 seconds of free fall seemed to last for ever, and then the 4 or 5 minutes drifting, slower than the free fall but not slow enough and yet at the same time too slow, took another life time. I think I am one of those rare people who failed to get the buzz from scaring myself to death.

Time is a curious beast because we cannot stop it, change it or travel back or forward in time

I love the quote: “Time and tide wait for no man”

How often do we hear; If I had my time again, if I knew that before, if I could have foreseen what might happen, hindsight is a marvelous thing, I would have done things differently, I would have spent more time with them, I would never have done this or that. Life is not like a piece of music that you can keep going back over until you have it perfected. You get one go at it and I believe the wisdom comes in taking every moment as it is, taking risks, living life to the full, learning from past mistakes and having no regrets.

Everyday is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been and move on. Don’t let negative words or actions of others affect your smile, decide today is going to be a good day. Take a deep breath, smile and start again.

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