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.