I Guess It’s About Time

I won’t beat around the bush: the title to this blog post is an excellent pun. It covers my graduation, the topic and culmination of this course, and the slight misdirection it seems this course has taken. At the beginning of the semester we were asked, “what time is it?”, “what is time?”, “what is your relationship to time?”, and then more extensively, “why does any of this matter?”. I remember the vast feeling of uncertainty I felt when walking into the room on the first day of class. I remember realizing how vague these questions were meant to be, and I was certainly uncertain with how I should be moving forward to answer them. When the class was asked “what time is it?”, we gave multiple rows of columns as a response. We had a lot to say. Usually, when someone asks “what time is it?”, they demand an ultra-specific response. If they don’t get the exact one they want, I can guarantee they will ask again, and maybe even get mad. But, it is, of course, all situational. In fact, we can take comfort in knowing that there are so many ways to clarify the time.

At the end of the semester, I can confidently say that I have more clarity on the subject. But, time hasn’t become any less vast, if anything it is more vast. Only now I have become more comfortable with the vastness. I am more comfortable with the endless answers to “what time is it?” and I am more comfortable knowing that this is how it is meant to be. One of the most impactful readings this semester, and one I have beaconed back to many times, is Einstein’s Dreams. Having this reading early on was extremely beneficial to my framing of the class. While much of the book featured fantastical representations of time, it really did pound home the idea that time really is relative. Even during class while we were accumulating lists on the board, every once in a while someone would bring up a topic or a facet of time that was not even close to my radar. Time has proved itself to be so immensely personal, and the deeper we dived into the course the more apparent that became.

While it could be frustrating to contemplate what time really means, it was comforting to read how philosophers like Seneca also struggled with the questions of “how to spend time”. Knowing that even the greatest thinkers in history would sit around struggling to contemplate how to manage their time is both scary as well as comforting. This made me realize that time really isn’t supposed to be understood, but it is instead meant to be studied so that we may be aware of it in whatever capacity it is needed. I found it particularly interesting whenever the terms “spend time” or “save time” came up. We all are constantly “spending” our time. Whether we are spending it wisely, well, or not, we are spending it nonetheless. With this constant outflow of time, there is still, somehow, room to “save time”. Usually it is brought up that we can “save time” by taking faster transportation, or we could “save time” by online shopping, or even by using a microwave to cook food. The connotation is that we are saving the time from doing something bad with it to doing something good. There are uses of our time that we value less, and therefore would rather allocate to other tasks. These seems like a very simple concept, but what is the use in “saving time” microwaving when the person loves to cook? What would be the use in “saving time” by flying somewhere when the person loves to drive? 

What we have learned here in class is that time is a currency that stems from nature, embedded in our own biology, and then put to work by our minds. We looked at how time is layered in the earth itself and in our universe, how the development of our world is dependent on time, and how we continue to measure time looking at the smallest moving parts of our natural world. Time is rooted in our world, as well as rooted in all of us. It only makes sense that it is up to us how we spend it. Like all things, there will be trends associated with how we spend our time, as well as the personal decision, and inherent repercussions, on how we are spending our time. So then, when asked “what time is it?”, “what is time?”, “what is your relationship to time?”, and “why does any of this matter?”, we should view these questions as the journeys that they are, instead of digging through our skulls for the perfect answer. 

All I can be assured of is that this class has been time well spent. I will miss it and the lessons we exercised each class. I do, however, take solace in the fact that at any time, I can go back to explore our syllabus, and spend some time looking over some past readings to always keep my new found knowledge of time refreshed and ready to go. But, if I truly took the readings to heart, maybe I would understand that it is best to move on. Thank you again, class, for providing me with the time I needed to help me with my time management, my time tolerance, and my time awareness. I just hope I am forgiven the next time someone asks me “what time is it?”.