Final Blog Post

When I first registered for this course, I really did not know what to expect. Studying time sounded like it could be interesting, and analyzing its value certainly seemed like it could be insightful and helpful. I didn’t realize how little I actually knew about time until these past three months. Daylight savings made me aware of the fact that time is a social construct, but beyond this, I did not really think of time on a much deeper level. After taking this class, I will never look at a clock, a calendar, a countdown, a timeline, an obelisk, a tree, a rock, space, or any time keeping device for that matter, in the same way that I did before.

Aside from the many timekeeping devices that I now look at differently, my outlook on other major areas of my life have also changed as a result of taking this class. More specifically speaking, this class has altered the way in which I think about God. One belief I always grappled with committing to was whether God could tell the future. I believe God is omnipotent, and so it follows that God would be able to tell the future. I found issue with this belief because it felt like if it was true, then my prayers might not even matter, as if what was going to happen in my life and in the world was already determined. Logically speaking, if the future wasn’t already determined, then how could God know it? After reading Augustine and discussing his work in class, I came to a resolution in agreement with Augustine: that God does not exist within the confines of time but rather exists outside of time. Augustine’s logical explanation made a great deal of sense to me, and has helped clarify one of the major confusions I had about my belief in God.

Through our discussions and readings on timekeeping devices throughout history, I learned about the ways in which different cultures and civilizations kept time, about the purposes time served for these people, and whom in those societies timekeeping primarily served to benefit. I was particularly fascinated by our class’ analysis of the Roman calendar and our class’ dissection of the standard calendar we use today. These discussions subverted the assumption I previously held that calendars were simplistic and easy to understand. Exercises throughout the semester such as this one have indubitably strengthened my analytical skills. I remember on the first day of class when Professor Gribetz first asked, “what time is it?” I did not think much further beyond the answer “11:31 AM.” Now, at this point in the semester, I feel confident enough to discuss the complexities of time and create analogies to help contextualize the way one thinks about time (e.g., by relating time to trees).

One of my favorite aspects of this class was reading about the viewpoints and perspectives of some prolific writers and thinkers, and then taking those viewpoints and perspectives and discussing them with the class to see what we all agreed and disagreed on and found most intriguing. I felt that these dialogues were particularly insightful and often broadened my horizons. For example, I can remember having my perspective on the distinction between work and rest changed through one class discussion: I previously believed that the two were basically mutually exclusive, that anything laborious was work even if it was relaxing in some way. Devin’s explanation of how he finds writing to be hard work, yet considers it to be leisurely and rejuvenating was what ultimately changed my perspective.

I think it’s apparent after reading my very first blog post that I, like many others, am anxious about making sure that I spend my time properly. This has become even more relevant as I have only 16 days left until graduation at the time this post is due. Throughout this semester I’ve gotten to explore topics relevant to me and my family and reflect on personal experiences regarding time (e.g., waiting for decision letters from law schools). One of the reasons this class has been so interesting is because we get to experience exactly what we study while we study it. Nonetheless, the fact that some of the questions we posed in class are still at large speaks to how intricate the study of time can get; in particular the question regarding how if all the change happening in the universe just stopped, does that mean time has stopped? Has this phenomenon happened to me while writing this post and I’m just not aware of it? I have yet to make up my mind about the answers to these questions and other questions similar to them. I look forward to continuing my journey on the exploration of time, figuring out how best to utilize it all while being cognizant of all that I’ve learned during these past three months.

Trees, Humans and Time

In class so far, we’ve discussed trees’ relation to time in a number of ways. Earlier in the semester we discussed family trees, the trees’ appearances as indications of the time of year, and how dendrologists tell the ages of trees. Just recently, the parallel between time and trees was brought up in the blog post entitled “Growth with Time.” The portion of this post that discussed the fig tree that flourished all of a sudden reminded me of a comforting tweet I read a while ago. The tweet, which I can no longer find, really put the human timeline into perspective for me, specifically apropos reaching success: it essentially pointed out that Steve Jobs became a millionaire at 23 but passed away at 56, whereas someone like Colonel Sanders (the founder of KFC) wasn’t “successful” until he turned 62 years old but lived until he was 90. While I could spend an entire blog post talking about what it means to be successful, for the purpose of this post I will begrudgingly adhere to the socially constructed idea for what success means (i.e., making a lot of money). Moreover, I think it is interesting to consider and explore the various ways in which trees can be analogous to humans’ timeline.

The facts referenced in the tweet which I mentioned earlier can be looked at in the same way that the growth of trees can be looked at. For example, the fig tree might bear its fruit after two years, an orange tree after three years, a pawpaw tree after seven years. Similarly, one person may become successful at 19, while another might have to wait until they’re 80. Growth and success for both trees and humans are contingent on certain situational factors that can make it more or less difficult to achieve success in a timely manner. From this, I think we can begin to see how time is truly a local phenomenon both for humans and for plants. Considering all of this makes me feel a lot better about the stage at which I’m at in my life right now (still trying to figure things out with no clear path to success and only loose and perhaps largely socially constructed ideas of what success is).

I also think trees can be symbolic of the generational distinctions we discussed in class today (4/29/19). In the same way climates (such as the political climate) impact a generation, the environmental climate also clearly has an impact on what trees can go where and when. In the tundra, for example, no trees can grow, yet as one moves south (either latitudinally or towards the earth’s core) into the warmer weather there is a distinct line where trees begin to grow called the tree line. I remember being fascinated when I found this out about tree lines; I would have expected there to be some sort of gradient between the different biomes.

Tree line.

My takeaway from considering these parallels is that trees are like humans when keeping the concept of time in mind: each person is like a plant, and while we may group certain plants with others and certain humans with others, there are numerous other factors that impact the developmental processes of these individual organisms.    

Notre Dame and Climate Change

As most of you probably know, last week part the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France caught on fire and suffered major damages as a result. In the wake of this unfortunate event, the richest members of our global society (and many others) have demonstrated just how generous they can be when they care about something: over 1 billion dollars have been donated so far to repair the damages that the fire caused. I couldn’t believe my roommate when he told me that one French billionaire donated over 200 million US dollars to this cause. I do not know how much it takes to repair a cathedral in our modern era, but I certainly would have guessed the cost to be much less than 200 million US dollars, let alone the billion that’s been raised. What’s more is that this money has been donated to an institution that can most likely already afford to repair the damages on its own, although I cannot say this for sure as I’m not that familiar with the Church’s financial status.

Notre Dame Cathedral Fire, April 15, 2019.

When I thought about all that was going on with the fire and its aftermath, I felt inclined to connect it to the topic of time. The way in which I connected time to the Notre Dame Cathedral is different from the way in which Kavita connected the two matters in her blog post, “The Consequences of the Notre Dame Fire.” I find it interesting that we both wrote about at the same event yet came up with completely different ways of connecting it to the topic of time.

When I first read this article about the fire, I was shocked to learn that the Notre Dame Cathedral had been built over 850 years ago. It is fascinating how a building could live through 850 years of our tumultuous world yet a fire ultimately altered it forever in a matter of hours (15 as Kavita mentioned in her post). In light of this, I started to connect the age of the Cathedral to the age of our planet. What inspired me to make that connection was a post I saw on twitter which pointed out all of the other causes that people could have donated to, but instead donated to the reparation costs of the cathedral. One of the causes mentioned in the post was climate change and cleaning up our planet.

Deforestation in Kalimantan, Indonesia

I remember reading not too long ago that scientists have begun to assert that all of us humans only have about 11 years to change the terrifying trajectory of our planet before the damage is irreparable. To me, this is a terrifying finding. Perhaps if the richest members of our society would look at the earth in the same way they looked at stained glass windows, they would be more inclined to donate to combating climate change. I imagine what saddens many people about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire is the age of the building and the loss of so much history. While I am in the same boat as these people, I am also just as saddened by the loss of our rainforests, biodiversity, and other natural environments that have been on earth for millennia. In spite of these losses, there’s a clear lack of sufficient action being taken to prevent the destruction of these beautiful parts of our natural environment.

I believe that part of the reason why people seem to be less distraught over the destruction of our natural environment than they are with the destruction of a manmade building has to do with time. If all of the deforestation, coral bleaching, species loss, etc, that has happened in the past 50 years instead happened in the matter of hours, I imagine that people would be much more distraught than they currently are. This is not to say that plenty of people do not already donate to helping our natural environment, because I know many do. As a matter of fact, in the time after I wrote this post, I read that a Swiss billionaire pledged 1 billion US dollars towards combating climate change. Hopefully, more people will start to consider the age of our planet and the fact that at some point no amount of money will be able to turn back time and repair the damage that’s being done to it.

Time, Graduation Dreams and Sigmund Freud

About a year ago while I was living in Walsh hall, Father Lito hosted a talk in his apartment on the meaning of dreams. I have always found dreams and their meanings fascinating, so I was looking forward to hearing a priest’s perspective on the topic. I was surprised to learn that his perspective wasn’t tied to religion or God at all — I thought perhaps that Father Lito might relate dreams to messages from God or something to that effect. Instead, we spent a large majority of the discussion sharing our own dreams and trying to figure out what they could mean. Father Lito also shared one story about a time when a number of students were telling him that they had been having dreams of losing hair or losing teeth. These students all had one thing in common: they were graduating soon. Father Lito hypothesized that the reasons these students were having such dreams was due to the fact that losing hair and losing teeth are signs of maturing.

For Fordham seniors at the time I’m posting this, there are 37 days left until we graduate. Interestingly, this is our last full week of school at Fordham as undergraduates: next week we have Thursday and Friday off for Easter, the Monday after Easter we have off, and we have a reading day on Friday the week after that! I was told this fact three days ago, and I believe it had an impact on one of the dreams that I had two nights ago. I was not losing hair nor was I losing teeth in this dream; instead, I was traveling through some sort of structure and suddenly I approached a balcony with a fully see-through glass railing (see image below) overlooking a dark but busy street. I could feel that if I continued any further, I would fall off of the balcony onto this street; however, before that happened, I woke up, remembered my dream, and immediately thought of the aforementioned discussion with Father Lito.

This is more or less what the railing looked like in the dream I described above.
Image source.

While I certainly do not completely subscribe to Freud’s’ psychoanalytic dream analysis, after my talk with Father Lito I do think this dream had something to do with the fact that I’m graduating so soon and that I had just heard the news that this would be my last full week of school at Fordham. While other graduating seniors may feel happy about graduating so soon, such as the one who posted on this blog on March 12 entitled “Graduation Countdown,” I’m much more worried about this process. Consequently, I think the balcony was meant symbolize my college experience coming to an end: the dark busy street could have symbolized my nervousness over what the future will hold for me, as the darkness made it difficult to really see the movement that was taking place on the street below. I believe this could be a reflection of the fact that I know more or less what I will be doing post graduation, yet I don’t know exactly what to expect.

As we saw earlier in the semester after reading Einstein’s Dreams, time impacts dreams in a number of ways. The content of the dream itself can be impacted by time, as I believe it was in my scenario above. In addition, time impacts dreams in the sense that the duration of a dream can often be difficult to gauge. In other words, a dream that lasts just a few seconds can feel like it’s gone on for an entire night. With the way that our sleep cycles and brain waves work, it is difficult to measure the exact duration of dreams. The best evidence I could find suggested that dreams can be anywhere from a few seconds to an hour long, and that dreams can occur in non-REM sleep though they mostly occur in REM sleep. Nevertheless, the duration of some dreams are certainly shorter than the dreamers themselves would believe.

Having considered this, I thought it would be interesting to see if Freud himself ever mentioned time in his discussions of dream analysis. As it turned out, Freud discussed time a lot in his book “The Interpretation of Dreams.” For example, Freud referenced the duration of dreams and how dreams are “defaced by time.” Freud viewed dreams as a form of thinking, but what mystified Freud about dreams with this understanding in mind is how dreams were able to contain so much content in such short amounts of time, which were actually short because he measured them to some extent: “This dream gave rise to an interesting discussion…as to whether, and how, it was possible for the dreamer to crowd together an amount of dream-content apparently so large in the short space of time elapsing between the perception of the waking stimulus and the moment of actual waking.” As a psychology major, I am somewhat familiar with Freud’s dream analysis; however, I never realized how much Freud actually discussed how time impacts dreams. This class has enabled me to think about time beyond a surface level and how it affects so many areas of our lives.

Seasons of Love: The Value of Time

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear. Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, Measure a year?

In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?

In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure a year in a life?

How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love… Seasons of love (love)… Seasons of love (love)…

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. Five hundred twenty five thousand journeys to plan. Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure a life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried? In bridges he burned, or the way that she died?

It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends. Let’s celebrate remember a year in a life of friends

Remember the love… (Oh, you’ve got to you’ve got to remember the love) Remember the love… (You know the love is a gift from up above) Remember the love… (Share love, give love, spray love, measure your life in love.) Seasons of love… Seasons of love…

(lyrics source: http://www.metrolyrics.com/seasons-of-love-lyrics-rent.html)

These are the lyrics to the song Seasons of Love, which I first heard at a talent show in sixth grade. One of my friends performed it and although I never knew the name of this song, I always remembered its unique first lines. This past winter, I heard Seasons of Love in full for the first time since that talent show 10 years ago as one of my favorite artists, Ariana Grande, released a rendition of it with her older brother Frankie. Listening to this song while in a class on time has completely changed the way I listen to it. If someone were to ask me “how do you measure a year” a few months ago, I probably would have given them a rather perplexed look. I can now answer that question with aplomb, and also inform my inquisitor of how some ancient societies measured their years/time. Nevertheless, I still find the lyrics of the song thought provoking.

The message that the song attempts to convey is clear. In my opinion, the meaning is summed up pretty well by the famous saying, “it’s not the years in your life that matter, it’s the life within your years.” Additionally, according to the song, a life filled with giving and getting love is a life that is most fulfilled.

When I did research on Seasons of Love to write this post, I found out a lot of interesting background information. For example, I learned that the song comes from the Broadway show “Rent.” Upon finding this out, I tried to see what the play’s plot was and how this song fit into it. I discovered that two of the protagonists of the play are AIDS positive, and that the play is set in the late 80s before any sort of AIDS treatment was readily available and when a lot of stigma was still placed on AIDS positive people. Even without going any further into the details of the plot, although I did, I could see how this song fit perfectly. Given that contracting AIDS in the late 80s was in some ways a death sentence, the song’s tries to bring awareness to the fact that life can still be beautiful and worth living even if it may be cut unfortunately short. A previous blog post entitled “Quantity vs. Quality of time” brought up a good point about living with illnesses and making the most out of life: if a person with a terminal illness spends their last remaining years or even days on earth worrying about their life span, they really are not doing themselves any justice. The book “Tuesdays With Morrie” is an excellent example of how this rings true if anyone is ever interested in this topic!

Regardless of how time is measured, I agree that the value of time is primarily affected by the way that it’s spent. I do not yet know how to spend time in the best way possible, though. Sometimes I think just doing what makes one happy is enough to live a fulfilling life, but I am aware that there are some things that do not make people happy in the present but act as an investment to make them happier in the future. For me personally, I am sure there will be monotonous classes in law school that I will find a waste of time and that studying for will make me unhappy (e.g., tax law, when my main goal is something in human rights or immigration). My solution to this is to figure out how to make the best out of any situation; perhaps I could try and find a new friend in my tax law class to develop a lasting friendship. Hopefully later in the semester we will have the opportunity to discuss the value of time with the class as whole, as I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts and implement their suggestions into my own life.

Time and Timelessness

What does it mean to be timeless? Hundreds of years ago, that word had a different meaning than it does today: timeless meant premature, or untimely (as in someone’s passing). However, according to to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, today the word timeless means “not restricted to a particular time or date” or “not affected by time.” One may hear a song or view a piece of artwork and say, “ah, that’s a timeless piece right there.” But what does that really mean? While in a class concerning time, I find it appropriate to take a look at the usage of the word timeless on a deeper level to unravel the truest meaning of it.

As I sit down and write this post in Fordham’s Walsh library, I am surrounded by thousands of books, some of which date back hundreds of years and some of which have just been published. This leads me to wonder if these books and written words in general are really timeless — using the current definition of the word at least. After some reflecting, I decided that the books are timeless and simultaneously not timeless (bare with me).

In many ways, books and written words are not timeless. Eventually, just about all of the books in this library and others will decay and may be of little use to people in the distant future. Today one can see this decay in action by making a quick trip to Fordham’s library where I once found a book on the shelves from 1830; the book practically fell apart in my hands as a reddish-orange substance from the covers had gotten all over my hands and clothes (I’m sure there are many older ones there as well especially in the special collections room we visited). We also saw today in class how fragmentary the Dead Sea Scrolls became after a few thousand years and the tedious work scholars had to do to make them legible. Nevertheless, the physical property of books is not all that matters.

I understand that books are constantly republished and reprinted so that they may live on, and that the trajectory of our digital age may seem to ensure that at least some of these books and written texts will live on forever. However, I don’t think any of this guarantees that they will actually do so. There are certainly many books that have been in circulation in the past that are now lost forever, and likewise there are probably many more books being published today that will be lost forever. Take the poet Sappho as an example of someone whose works were once famous but now are mostly fragmentary due to a number of sociopolitical factors, and are of particular interest mostly to a niche community of scholars. This goes to show that people in powerful positions may alter what lives on and withstands the test of time, which is something really important to consider.

With all this being said, the reason why I believe so many texts are actually timeless is due to the legacy that they may leave. Texts like the Quran or the Torah or the Bible and so on have impacted the world in so many ways that even if no one believes in religion in a million years, the impact that these texts have had on the world are insurmountable. Even a lesser known, less prolific piece of art may live on in eternity, there are just so many ways for things to leave a legacy behind. Consider a pair of people who happen to be at a museum in the same place at the same time who bond over the beauty of a specific type of art and who eventually give birth to a child who develops a cure for a terrible illness of some sort — something so small can have such an impact that in reality it seems to me that almost anything can be timeless depending on how one thinks of the word.

Time & Fashion

I enjoy looking through old family photos every once in a while. I take pleasure in seeing my parents when they were my age and comparing how they looked to how my brothers and I look now. One thing in particular always stands out when I carry out this comparison: fashion.

On numerous occasions I can remember looking at photos of my parents and saying to myself, what in the world were these two thinking wearing those outfits? Of course, I recognize that they were probably in style back then and that no one at that time was likely to question their fashion senses; however, what’s more interesting to me currently is that when I look at these photos now, I have a completely different view on the outfits they were sporting. I no longer ask myself what in the world were these two thinking; instead, I actually think their outfits were quite stylish and would admire someone if they were to wear some of those outfits today. I think this is largely due to the trend of fashion repeating itself — according to Vogue magazine this happens about every fifteen years.

My grandfather’s film camera from the 1960s

Taking a class revolving around the idea of time has led me to wonder why fashion tends to repeat itself and when this trend really began. I feel as if part of this trend has to do with the fact that technology has allowed people to view the past and its vogue more readily than ever before and thus be inspired by it. But then again, it seems to be more than just fashion that comes back from times past: I have noticed a recent trend in using old photography methods as well. Even I brought my grandfather’s film camera from the 1960s out of storage because I felt there was a certain unique and inexplicable charm to film photography. Regardless of what is causing the resurgence of fashion and photography from times past, there is some element of the past that continues to draw people’s attention.

With this in mind, I find it intriguing to consider fashion not just from our present and relatives’ pasts but also fashion from the past few hundreds of years. Just by looking at a picture, whether on film or any other medium, one can gain a much deeper understanding of the people in said photo simply from their attire. For example, one might be able to tell a person’s socioeconomic status or rank within society, what time period they lived in, what religion they practiced, what country they lived in, perhaps if they were married or not, what social constructs they were bound by, and more. This picture of Queen Elizabeth I of England, or the Virgin Queen, illustrates this:

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I of England from 1588

Simply by looking at this picture, without knowing that it’s Queen Elizabeth, one would probably be able to guess that the image is of some kind of extremely important, fabulously wealthy individual. Next one would probably be able to deduce that she is someone of European descent from at least a few hundred years ago. The next inferences one might be able to make are likely about the social constructs she was bound by: being completely covered with only the hands and face exposed probably sent a particular message. Additionally, that this portrait was painted by hand speaks volumes. I am not an art historian, but this fact leads me to believe that Queen Elizabeth’s outfit was strategically chosen to send a message to other imperialist nations at that time.

Earlier I cited a Vogue magazine article which purported that fashion repeats itself every 15 years; however, in the past couple of years I have noticed that some fashion from centuries ago has been inspiring contemporary designers. Take the French fashion house Balmain for an example of this, their looks are clearly inspired by some royalty or nobility of a past era:

The 2018 Met Gala theme, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” was also a major fashion event largely inspired by fashion from times past. There is something undoubtedly charming about the past that continues to draw people to it. I hope to learn more about what that charm is by the end of our class!

Aging and Society

Two years ago while searching for courses to take for the first semester of my junior year, I felt elated to find a psychology course called Aging and Society. I have always been interested in aging, and psychology is one of my foremost passions. The class not only met but exceeded any expectations I had for that semester: I learned a lot of valuable information and I left the class with an entirely different outlook on the aging process. Now that I am taking a class revolving around the idea of time itself, it is interesting to think about what I learned in Aging and Society and see how I have interacted with that knowledge over the past two years.

Prior to taking Aging and Society, I often thought of the aging process in a negative manner. Aging frightened me due to the fact that many people in my life had told me that they enjoyed their high school and college years more than any other time in their lives. This often led me to feel as if my life was going to be in a continuous decline beyond these years, which were coming to an end for me. I often felt myself thinking that if these are the best years of my life right now, then what do I have to look forward to? Thankfully, after sifting through a myriad of research done on older adults in my Aging and Society class, I found that in reality older adults were objectively happier than their younger counterparts. We also debunked the stereotype often portrayed in the media that older adults are usually mean and cranky — consider the Pixar movie “Up” for instance. Looking back at the past year and a half, I feel that I have been worrying less than I did before about aging. It used to be on my mind a lot and it was a pretty big stressor for me; however, I do not think that this has been the case lately. I find this especially interesting being that I am a second semester senior; now more than I ever I should be feeling the anxieties I had about aging, but I do not.

One of the assignments we had to do outside of the classroom for Aging and Society was to interview an individual over sixty-five years old. I chose to interview my grandma’s then seventy-four year old best friend Gina. I have known Gina my entire life and I see her about once a month. Gina told me a lot of interesting information about her life, and she gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me to this day. I asked Gina, “if you could give your younger self or a younger person in general one piece of advice, what would it be?” After a short pause, Gina responded. “Don’t worry so much. When I think of all the little things I worried about when I was younger I realize that it didn’t even matter in the end, so why was I even worrying about it? I had so much stress and anxiety from these little issues I was facing and in the end, I think I’m doing just fine.” For some reason, this really resonated with me. Over the past two years, when I found myself panicking about a little mishap and I remember what Gina told me, my anxiety levels went down to a much more tolerable level.

Aside from what I learned from Gina and from my Aging and Society class, I have learned so much about the world and about myself in the past two years. When I was in Aging and Society I was terrified of the fact that I had no plans after college and did not even know if I chose the right major. Since then, I have discovered my passion and decided to pursue a law degree. I can see now why it is important to trust in Gina’s advice. All the worrying I did about not knowing what I wanted to do in life went away, and in the end everything worked itself out. Even though I have only gotten two years older since I took Aging and Society, it is intriguing to consider all that I learned and how it has applied to my life as the time has progressed. I am happier now than I was two years ago, and I do not believe my life will continually decline after graduation. In addition, after I considered our class discussions and the readings we have done for class so far, I realized something interesting: we can learn from people so much older than us, and even though their pasts are different than our futures will be, we can still apply what we learn from them to our lives presently. Not only is this possible, but looking back at my past two years, I find it important to do so.