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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Time passages...

No, not the song, I am referring to the actual passage of time. More the perception of the passage of time. Physics tells us that time is relative, and if you don't believe it, have some relatives stay with you for a few days, and see how long THAT feels!!

It seems to come up in conversation all the time, the phrases, "Where does the time go?" and , "What happened to the time?" Well, the times goes the same way that it always does, ever forward. Since we can't yet travel at speeds exceeding the speed of light, time MUST travel forwards. Yet the actual meaning of these phrases is not literal, but rather rhetorical, how does the time pass so quickly without our noticing?

"A watched pot never boils." this is so far from true, yet it is another comment on the perception of time. In fact there was an episode of ST-TNG ( for those of you who are not geeks, Star Trek-The Next Generation) where the android character Data, tests this assertion, and finds that it always takes water the same time to boil when all variables are accounted for and factored in, whether the pot is watched or not. This is not about the pot of water, but the lack of excitement in watching a pot come to a boil. Although the time that it takes never changes, the simple act of watching it happen stretches the perceived time taken because of the lack of any other activity. And yet, "Time flys when you're having fun."

What brings all this inane stuff to my mind you are probably wondering, and I am getting to that, but I wanted to make a few points first. As much as it is a constant, for us mere mortals, it is also a liquid and elusive thing. When were are excited with anticipation for some approaching happy event or date, time crawls along, and when the time finally does arrive, it is over and done before we are ready and we wonder what happened to it. Remember when you were a kid and it seemed like summer would never end and you couldn't wait for the end of school so you could start those carefree days of summer vacation? It seemed like summer took forever to arrive, but then when it finally did, you couldn't imagine it would ever end. ( even though you knew it would!) When you are 10 years old, you have only experienced 120 months of life. 1-2-0!!! That's 3,652 days ( including leap years!) That is it! Double that to 240 months and you are now 20 years old. ( 7,305 days) Makes it seem like a lot longer than it really is since I am in the over 14,600 area! LOL Let's break it into some thinkable fractions.

When you are 12 months old, one month is 1/12 of your entire life. 1/12. When you are 12 years old, 1/12 of your life is now 1 year! When you are 24 years old, 1/12 of your life is now 2 years! The older we get, the faster time seems to go, because the frame that we have to reference gets bigger. It is the same as looking back at the clothes we wore when we were little kids, you look at those tiny shoes that your mother saved and while you can remember your feet in them, you don't remember when they no longer fit. Time is much the same, you are always aware of the passage of the time, how many hours have we spent at work just wishing the hours away so that we could go home and relax, or go on vacation, or just go have a beer? How many hours have we wasted looking for something that was "lost" only to find it someplace that we already looked, but not quite thoroughly enough? How many days of our life have passed while we have sat watching TV or reading books of somebody elses adventures. How much time lost standing in line for who knows what? The one thing that we all have in common is time.

Nobody is immune to the passage of time, if you are alive and living in our dimension. If you wish to have more time, you are shit out of luck, you get the same amount as everyone else does. 24 hours in each day. Everyone gets a different number of days, but what you do with them once you are aware that you can do something with them is where the differences come in. Some people will learn everything that they possibly can, and some people will happily sink into oblivion and never feel the need to look up. Sadly, it is a coin toss to figure out which one ends up rich and famous. There is never any telling what the fates will drop on somebody.

Because of the structure of society, there are many of us who will do the responsible thing, and waste most of our life toiling away at a job that we tolerate, and wishing for the opportunity to do the things that we truly love. Because the world requires that we have means to enjoy many things, and the only way to get these means is to work, we work. We spend 40+ hours each week working, but what about the rest of our lives?

7 days X 24 hours is 168 hours in a week. Subtract the average work week of 40 hours and that leaves 128 hours. Figure a minimum of 6 hours of sleep daily. Another 42 hours of the week gone. Leaves us with 86 hours. Take out 2 hours a day for cooking and eating, which makes 14 hours a week. Down to 72 hours already and we have barely scratched the surface. Daily shower... let's just say personal grooming... 30 minutes a day, 3.5 hours a week. 68.5 hours left. How do you get to work? How long does it take you. American average is somewhere in the 45 minute each way area, so that's 1.5 hours each day 5 days a week. 7.5 hours down the tubes. 61 precious hours left in our week, but we ain't done by a long shot. Average American watched 2.5 hours of TV daily. If you watch TV while doing other things you're ahead of the curve, but far too many people don't. So that's now another 17 .5 hours a week gone forever! We are down to 43.5 hours, but I will spot you 7 hours back, because most people eat while watching TV and we will assume that half of that is meals... so we are plus 50.5 hours. What about your daily chores, cleaning, laundry, shopping, yard and garden work, errands, anything that is considered work that you don't actually get paid for. Figure easily 3 hours each day. (averaged over 7 days) Works out to 21 hours. Now we have only 29.5 hours left.

We are down to 29.5 hours a week left to us. Spread out over 7 days, which comes out to a little more than 4 hours a day. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? But consider that is likely to be 10 minutes here and 5 minutes there, maybe a full 1/2 hour someplace along the way, and you wonder what happens to that 29.5 precious hours that you can call your own. Thinking about them will drive you nuts, but now that you know they are there you will be looking for them.

A wise person once said that it doesn't matter how many days that you live, but what you do with those days that matter. To me, a life well lived is worth far more than the money that I may or may not make along the way. Not everyone feels this way, and that is just fine. I would like to be able to pursue some dreams, but I am still pursuing the means. Perhaps someday the dreams will come, but for now I will continue looking at the minutes that I have available to me as opportunities, and whenever possible I will use those precious minutes to work on my dreams instead of just working. I hope that you will do the same, dreams are important to everyone, and it is always nice when some of them come true.

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