Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

December 14th


For those old enough to remember the 1969 release of this iconic Chicago Transit Authority song, you will know the next line is Does anybody really care?

Of course we care. But I’ll get to that in a moment. This song has been in my head since we changed the clocks for daylight savings. And I’m always reminded of that graphic, generally attributed to an indigenous American, that wonders at those who think they can cut a foot off one end of a blanket, attach it to the other end, and think they have a longer blanket.

When we moved our clocks back I discovered the clock in my car doesn’t work anymore. Since she’s a 1998 model BMW apparently it’s hard to get replacement parts. I’m a much older model…and I feel that. But I have been driving around without a clock and thus without the ability to check the time. OK. Yes, I could use my mobile phone but I choose not to. It’s been rather discomforting to realize how much I rely on clock watching. 

So back to the caring part. 

Yes. We do care about what time it is. We care very much about time in general. But what we care about is the mechanical construct of time that we’ve wrapped around the flow of life. 

And in this mechanical construct, we step away from the natural life flow. We remove ourselves from the organic nature of that flow with all the subtle and surprising influences and hold fast to the idea that somehow we are in control and that we can actually control time through quantification. It’s an illusion. News flash. Life happens without our measuring it. 

Our indigenous ancestors knew this. When the clock as we know it was invented in 723 AD it was not enthusiastically embraced. Those ancestors preferred to mark the passage and flow of life with measurements of the seasons and celestial movements because they knew themselves to be part of that cosmic flow. We use the term Indian time as a slam on those who wait for the right moment to begin something, regardless of what a clock might say. Actually my Irish friends talk about Irish time. It’s not a criticism but rather an explanation for when gatherings and events might begin. 

There is a natural world fluency in this. John O’Donohue wrote a piece he named Fluent that expresses this beautifully. There is genius in this. Literally, the genius of place based wisdom. The wisdom of the natural world. The wisdom of our ancestors.

I would love to live
Like a river flows
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

Oh, I get it. Our constructs of time allow us to accomplish what the flow might not. We do live in a world of machine mind consciousness. Yet what might be possible if we just, every now and then, stepped away from the mechanization of our lives and turned to embrace the flow? What if we were carried by the surprise of our own life’s unfolding? 

What if we didn’t know what time it was…and what if we didn’t care?

Judith –

1 thought on “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

  1. The ability of humankind to measure time in the zillionth of a nanosecond is a key to our technology. My internet hums at 200 million bits per second and so does my neighbor’s because of that. So, yes, I occasionally have to switch it off and watch the snow fall.

Comments are closed.