Time: Quality or Quantity?

For my entire life, I have thought of time—for the most part—as numbers and phrases used to denote the passage of time. However, as we discussed the different facets of it this semester, I begun to realize that accounts of time need not be numerical. While it is important to use these standard, synchronized time markers, time’s meaning in life extends far beyond measurements. Because of this, I have come to understand time as something that centers around quality rather than quantity.

As we touched on in the last class, life’s phases can be marked by things far different from age ranges. We tend to distinguish our phases of life based on what we were doing at the time; a teen mother may think of her 16th year as the year she was pregnant, while another woman could do the same with her 40th year. We do not rely on units of time and measurements to denote distinct phases of our lives, but rather, we turn to the things that were important to us at the time. Whether big or small, we often use emotions, events, people, etc., to describe where we are in life.

Thinking about this helps me to see that our perceptions of time do not focus on its numerical value. If four years pass and nothing eventful or meaningful happens in that time, it will not be remembered the same way as four years full of marriage, death, new jobs, etc. This class has shown me that we really care more about what happens within a given amount of time and less about the amount of time that was given. A “good time” in one’s life may be a single week in which they went on vacation with friends and enjoyed themselves, or a “good time” could be a couple’s first year together. A “bad time” could be a day where nothing was going right, or it could be the years following the death of a loved one. We do not usually remember life phases and moments as they are measured numerically, but rather, we think about the quality of that moment in our life.

Another signifier of this, to me, is the fact that people can forget memories and repress entire phases of their lives. People who have lived through traumatic events repress these terrible moments in or phases their life. Events deemed unmemorable get thrown out of our heads. Though the same quantitative markers were used for these amounts of time, they disappear from our memory. The sole fact that the time was passing and was being measured means nothing here; it is about what happened during this time that matters. The quality of the content of this phase of life determines whether or not it should be recorded in our brains, not the mere existence of the moment.

This class has allowed me to take all of my existing notions of time’s construct and throw them out the window. I have gotten the opportunity to reevaluate how I understand time and I have begun to see it in a less rigid, more valuable way. Coming into the course, I would have thought time was simply our numerical record of its passage. In response to the question “What is time?”, at this point, I revert back to Augustine from the beginning of the semester. I now see time as he did, namely as the way in which humans perceive its passage, but through a bit of a different lens. I believe our perception of time does not rely on the time markers that we use to perceive it, but on our perception of the nature of the events that took place at a given time. “Quality over quantity” is a cliche that is often used when talking about time, but I had never thought it would be the most important aspect of my understanding of time. We “make the most” of our time; we distinguish our life phases using quality; we determine its value based on quality. Now, I see: time is qualitative in every sense.

Final Time Blog

Our class discussions from the last several weeks about how we spend our time have influenced my perspectives and the way that I use my time. Every Thanksgiving break and Spring break in my two years at Fordham, I have gone home and spent much of the break studying, since I have consistently had science exams immediately after break. This year, I decided to go home for Easter, and I thought that I would be obligated to study every day in preparation for the next week’s exams. My older brother had also decided at the last minute to come home; he recently graduated from college and is employed and no longer living at home so the last time I saw him was for Christmas. He would only be home for a couple days.

By this time, in our class we had started to speak of Seneca, and his views on the best way to spend time, which was in productivity. We learned about the Sabbath, and how days of rest influenced parts of people’s lives that I originally assumed would not be affected, such as parking schedules in New York. We debated the meaning of rest and free time, and we tried to define what counts as work and what doesn’t count.. We considered the best way to use one’s time, and how we were spending our time then, and how we wanted to spend it in the future, and how these decisions concerning our time would affect our lives.

These considerations were on my mind when I recently had a phone call with my aunt. Her husband, my uncle, passed away unexpectedly during spring break. When it happened, it was a big shock to everyone in our family. This was the first time I talked with my aunt since it happened. I told her I was going home for break and everyone in our immediate family would be in the house together that weekend. I mentioned my tests and said something about studying that weekend, and she stopped me. My aunt said that time passes far too quickly than you realize; the most valuable time, which is the time spent with the people you love, would pass before I knew it. She reminded me that this was a rare occasion when the whole family would be together and I should spend the time with my brother in the short time that he was home. I finally realized how selfish I was being with my time. I actually was planning to travel all the way home to just to put headphones in and study the whole break with little time to talk with, and even just be with my loved ones for a few days, and I was willing to give up this valuable time with family for one test grade that didn’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Luckily, I listened to my aunt and I chose to relax and enjoy this time with my parents and sister and brother, and participate in family activities with them like coloring easter eggs, and visiting our extended family.

Seneca did not believe that the Sabbath was useful or efficient; he thought a day of rest every week, 1/7 of one’s life, was a waste of time that could be used in a productive way. However, I have to disagree with him. People get caught up in busy schedules and forget the importance of rest, and of free time, to spend as one wishes. During Easter break, resting from work, from studying, led to my greater focus and efficiency in the school week after break. It also allowed me to speak with my family, and catch up on everything we missed about each other’s lives since we last saw each other, and find joy in this time together, which I would have regretted missing.

So, in conclusion, something that I will carry from this class is careful consideration of how I am spending my time and if I think my use of time is fulfilling and if it supports my beliefs of how I should try to live.

Final Blog Post

Throughout the semester, I have seen different perspectives on time and how other people perceive time. When I first started this course, I did not consider how different time is interpreted in different cultures or places on the planet. I only considered how my time worked but not the other time of people. Each class session was fascinating to me because I learned how people measured time or organized their time around it. It was interesting how the way we organize ourselves around time changed based on new technologies or cultural practices. It made me realize that our time is different from others. Additionally, everyone’s’ perception of time is different from each other. We do not always react to the same thing exactly the same, each person has a different sense of time.

While it was mostly fictional, Einstein’s Dreams gave me another point of view of how time would affect our lives if worked differently. Each dream world illustrated a society that revolved around time. While each dream seems to have people that are happy with their lives, there were also people who lost themselves in the time of that specific world and were never able to live comfortably. They were always trying to use the time in their world to be happy but in some cases, it made them even sadder. These stories made me think about how many people in our world think about our concept of time. It made me think about how many people are unhappy with their lives. They do not have any way to control time but they most always plan around it. If given the choices that other people had in Einstein’s Dreams, would they do something to escape our current time? This question made me realize that time is not the same for everyone.

The different ways of time also fascinated me. I had known about several of the objects we studied in class but I did not understand how people used them or why they decided to use them. It also gave me another perspective about each of the cultures because I had become accustomed to the daily objects of time that we use daily. They were always there throughout my life, but I never decided to study on where exactly they came from or how everyone agreed on a specific system of the time. My research on the Chinese Calendar was interesting to me because I had been curious about the Chinese Calendar and its origins. In my research, I saw how a calendar structured a particular society and affected people’s daily lives. The idea of a lunisolar calendar was new to me. I knew that our calendar was solar based and I liked learning about a calendar that incorporated both aspects, lunar and solar. In my research, I also learned about the zodiac animals, their connection to the calendar, and how people planned their actions around the twelve-year cycle.

This course made me think about what time really is. I never really questioned why the concept of time was formed. I just had lived my life around our concept of time and watch each day pass. However, the class gave me a new way to define what time really is. I believe that time is personal and that each person experiences time a different way. It is never the same for everyone because each individual perceives things differently.

Discovery

In one of my previous blog posts, I wrote about the journey and the destination of anything that eventually ends. In that blog post, I described how difficult it may be to let go of something after spending a long time with it. That despite having the ability to restart the journey, it would never feel the same as the first time and at a certain point you have to move on. It almost feels like you are stuck in the past without a way to find a way to escape.

One of the things that I would do to reduce those feelings would be to discover new things. By discovering new things you can find another thing that occupies your time for a while. Especially when you do not have anything to do. It has the potential to allow you to discover something that you might enjoy. It could also give you a new experience that could impact how you see the same types of art, music, or games.

Similar to one of my previous blog posts, I was stuck on finding something else to do that I basically have not played any other games. I had become stuck in the past that I would not seek anything else to do. I think that sometimes there is a reluctance to move on that it ends up affecting you negatively. I plan to prevent something like this from occurring or make it happen less often by discovering new things. Each new thing would give me a new experience even if I do not like it as much.

Memories of the Past

While listening to music, I always find myself thinking of certain moments that remind me of events I did in the past. The songs bring me back in time to moments of time to when I was listening to those songs. It is a way to recall memories that happened when I was using music to accomplish a task. It reminds of how much in my life has changed since I last heard the song.

It is not a specific genre of songs that remind me of a certain event in the past, but specific songs. The selection of songs that I listened to was impacted by other external factors that occurred at the time. As a result, I manage to link the songs to specific events because of how often I listened to them while studying or doing assignments. The events are not limited to when I first heard the song, but it is easier to connect memories when I listen to a new song for the first time because there is a chance that I’ll replay it often.

I find my connection with music interesting because when going through a playlist or listening to multiple songs, I am always going through many memories that occurred at different points of time. I look forward to how the music I listen to today will change over time and give me a new perspective on the events I did in the past.

Healthcare and Biological Time

By Kavita Kumari

Throughout the course, On Time & Its Value, there is a main theme—Time is complicated. People can answer the question “What time is it?” by instantly looking at a clock or a watch. Also, people can answer the question “What is time?” in terms of years, months, weeks, or days. Time is a social construct that influences us as much as we influence it. Specifically, time has a major influence in the healthcare field in terms of biological time. As a tool, time shows the relationship between our bodies and the world.

Interestingly, time plays a major role in terms of a life span. As defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the medical definition of a life is “the duration of existence of an individual.” The idea of duration is very important in regards to time. People may not understand the idea of existence, yet people can measure existence through time. A life span can refer to the period between life and death. People are born at a certain time, develop over the period of years, and die at a certain time. In terms of health care, our bodies reflect our development and our growth. We can look at our bodies as personal time keeping objects. Our bodies are reflections of ourselves and the world.

In relation to time, the topic of menstrual time is very interesting. Menstruation is different for every woman. It affects their bodies through hormonal and physical changes. Now, physicians may use menstruation as an indicator for a woman’s health in terms of her body. Also, it affects how they interact with the society. Menstruation relates to pregnancy. At a point in her life, a woman considers the possibilities of having children or raising a family. In the healthcare field, women’s health is a major topic in terms of screenings, therapies, and treatments. Today, women are starting to have such conversations openly to understand the role of time on their bodies.

Today, mental health is a prevalent topic, especially when talking about trauma. Trauma is a very severe experience that can be triggered at any moment. Traumatic experiences can also affect how people see the world and themselves throughout their whole lives. Trauma may result in physical and emotional stress, usually in the form of mental health disorders. People are instantly brought back to the past from the present, distorting their perception of time. People visualize and experience trauma through their own bodies. Through biological time, physicians can understand how trauma impacts people throughout the course of their lives.

Hence, understanding the relationship between healthcare and biological time is very important. Biological time is one answer to the question of “What time is it?” or “What is time?” It affects how we perceive our bodies in the world. By seeing our bodies as personal time keeping objects, we can understand how our bodies play a role in the healthcare field. This idea promotes conversations about medical advancements, support options, and treatments for patients. For medical professionals, understanding the connection between biological time and healthcare will enhance the access, duration, and quality of healthcare for patients.

Trapped

There would be certain periods throughout my life where I would feel stuck on something. I would not be able to decide on what to do because I cannot commit myself to something. I would essentially be stuck in deciding my next move on something. Time would pass but I could not make a decision on what to do. This leads to me spending a lot of my time on things that I could have completed sooner. In a way, it feels like a mental block that absorbs parts of your time before it heals.

I have noticed that this feeling of being trapped ranges from not being able to concentrate on a topic to eating slower. When this happens, time just passes by and I cannot do anything to escape it for a while. In some cases, I am negatively impacted because it takes some of my time away that I could have spent on other things. Eventually, there would be a point where I just decide to do it and power through whatever prevented me from accomplishing my task.

I believe that this state of being trapped is the result of me not willing to dedicate some of my time to something. Additionally, I also become stuck when I have a lot of free time but I do not have a goal in mind. In the future, I would like to prevent this because it does not give me the ability to control my time.

Wasted Time

Many people have said that they have wasted their time before doing activities that were not meaningful to them. It could be that they did not do anything to reach their long-term goals or they think they could have done something more productive. For some people, they believe that they must optimize their time. Since time is limited, it makes sense that some people would place more value on specific activities that would help them grow. In their point of view being passive does not accomplish anything.

On the other hand, personally, I do not believe that time can be wasted. I believe that any activity that consumes my time can be beneficial. This can range from sleeping to just simply not doing anything. I think that any activity that I do benefits me in several ways. I am always planning my next move when I am not doing anything that is considered to be a waste of time. I avoid dedicating my time to being always productive because in a way it is limiting. I do not feel free when my time is considered productive because sometimes it is not what I want to do. When I am doing other activities like watching videos, it affects my mood to work on projects or assignments.

I do not see any restrictions on how to spend my time because I devote myself to a particular task. I believe that every activity you spent your time on can result in consequences, but I take that into account when allocating my time. Every second devoted to something affects my ability to do well in the future.

Final Reflection

As we come to the end of this semester I started to think about how my perception of time has changed since the first class. I used to think that I had a clear understanding of time. I thought about time in terms of the way most of us are taught to think about time, which is in terms of the past, the present, and the future. For me, time was something that I hadn’t given much thought about. Because of school, I usually thought of time in terms of my own routine. I’d think about what I would have to do today, or what upcoming assignments I would have due, and how I would manage my time to ensure I had enough time to complete my assignments. When I wasn’t thinking about my schoolwork, or work in general, I would think about how much free time I had to do the things I wanted.

Taking this class really allowed me to understand that time is a social construct. It has allowed me to think of time in ways I have never thought of before. I remember learning about the different ways our own body keeps time. I thought it was interesting to think about how things like our eating schedules, sleep cycles, and even menstrual cycles are different forms of timekeeping. When I was in high school, the times of day where I ate were a lot more consistent than now. During that time, I usually ate three meals a day at around the same time each day. When I got to college, this routine really changed. Since I am a commuter, I don’t have a meal plan, so f I do eat I would usually eat out, but there are times where I would skip out on lunch. On days where I have classes back to back, I don’t really have a chance to have a meal. Skipping out on meals had really changed my eating schedule. I was so used to eating homemade meals at certain times of the day, but because of my schedule now, I find myself eating out more. Our class discussions allowed me to think differently about my own body, and how it has changed over time. I was especially surprised when we discussed menstrual cycles, and puberty, because this is something I never even considered.

Another discussion we had that I found really intriguing was the discussion of the sounds of time. This discussion was really interesting, and I think enjoyable. I think that most of the time we are so preoccupied with our daily lives that we do not stop to think about the different sounds we hear daily. Personally, the sound of busses, or trains, passing by lets me know of the passage of time. In the mornings, I pay particular attention to the bus because it is the form of transportation I use to get to school. I listen to see if I can hear if the bus has passed, so I know if i’ll be late. Similarly, I live near a train station, so I would often hear the trains passing. This is an indicator of the passage of time, although I never really paid much attention to it. In one of my blog posts, I discussed how animals can be a form of telling time. Roosters, for example, are really good indicators of time. If you live in the countryside, roosters are helpful in telling when it is morning. When I was in D.R., I was not used to hearing the sounds of roosters in the morning, but for many of my other family members, this was something that they were used to. It’s really fascinating to see how our perceptions of time can be affected by the area in which we live in.

Overall, I think this class has been a really great experience. It’s been really helpful in urging me to think about my experience with time in a different way. I’ve also come to realize that time is not exactly linear like I had previously believed it was. If I were asked the question “what is time?” again, my answer would be different than the answer I had on the first day of class. I may have a better understanding of time than I did on the first day, but I still believe that time is difficult to define.

Constant News

Our conversation on Monday about the defining characteristics of our generation sparked me to reflect more thoroughly on my relationship to technology and digital information.  I found this Time article, “You Asked: Is It Bad for You to Read the News Constantly?” by Markham Heid. 

 (Here’s a link: http://time.com/5125894/is-reading-news-bad-for-you/)

The article cites a survey done by the American Psychological Association in which “more than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as a result” (Heid).  Heid argues that these effects could be a result not only of the constancy of reading the news, but also in the physical forms that we receive much of our news today.  He cites increasingly visual and shocking videos and audio bytes as being capable of causing acute emotional responses and states that this can be especially true in watching bystander-captured media (Heid).  

My relationship to the constant access to worldwide news is complicated.  On the one hand, I recognize the privilege that I have in being able to have access to a smartphone/computer and being able to be informed about things that are happening outside of my neighborhood.  Access to information at the speed and scope that we have is definitely a privilege, and I think that the Time article does a good job in addressing the ways that it might also be a problem. I know that for myself, constantly trying to be up to date on the most recent world tragedy can reap negative emotional effects.  Like Edona mentioned in class, I don’t know that we were made to be able to fully process each new story before a new one comes along.  The effect of this can sometimes be desensitization, as that can be the only way to get through all of the news, but can also be heightened emotions.      

Although there is a guilt I experience as a result of not being well informed all the time, I know that sometimes it’s healthier for me to avoid checking the news every once and a while.  The guilt of not knowing as much about current events as I feel like I should is definitely easier to deal with than the emotional turmoil of feeling like another bad thing happens somewhere in the world every passing minute and that the apocalypse is constantly just around the corner.  I think it’s important that we stay cognizant of the way that the constant flow of information affects us and establish personal boundaries to our news sources so that we aren’t getting caught in the negative emotional affects that Heid outlines.