Thursday, July 19, 2007

Measuring Time

So, although seemingly morbid, I don't spend every minute thinking about my mortality and I wouldn't recommend that to anyone. But by rethinking how you measure your time, you may find that a healthy urgency starts to affect your day to day decisions. For instance, when someone refers to the "past," what do you think of? How do you measure that? Is the past last week, last month, or what you did this morning? I realized one day that because every unit of time is divisible (so an hour ago can be thought of as a half hour ago, one minute ago becomes a half minute ago, 30 seconds ago becomes 15 seconds ago, 1 second ago becomes .5 seconds ago, and so on), there really is only the past and future with the present being an illusion. The present is an infinitely divisible point of time, to the point where on any practical level, it disappears. Whereas many people would define their past as at least yesterday, I started to realize that the past and future are always at hand. You started reading this blog in the past. You started reading this sentence in the past. As I adapted to the intensity of this thinking, I began to appreciate the process by which time passes through us. We are always on the cusp of the past and future and clinging to the comfortable idea of a present. Given that, I found a new urgency in all I do. I evaluated how I spend my time and decided that television was by and large a waste of it. Raising my children became the obvious first preference of how to use my time. Even if I decide to lounge around the house on a weekend, it is a conscious choice. This realization raised every decision to my conscious mind as an important one. Inevitably, people at funerals come to this same realization as they gently admonish, "we need to spend more time together" or "we need to slow down," only to have their newfound philosophy dissolve as they leave the service. Our time on this planet is truly short, as you've heard hundreds of times. Accepting that every minute is a collection of half minutes, seconds and half seconds, not to mention milliseconds, may highlight how many opportunities we each have every hour of every day to decide how we will live.

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