Monday, 27 October 2014

'to alter the time of the clock'

It is very almost the end of October. This weekend just gone saw many things but we also saw the clocks go back; not that I changed any of them myself (although I realise as I type this that my wrist watch needs to be adjusted!!!). The wonders of modern-day technology now means that I simply have to look at the time on my computer screen or car or phone and voila; instantaneous. I accept it as it is. No more waking up in the morning wondering whether it is indeed 8am or 9am. Did my phone change automatically? Must I change it myself? is it ACTUALLY 9am? Did I sleep in this much? Must I suddenly pay real attention and question the time that is presented to me!? Must I then be accountable and responsible for adjusting this authoritative number that appears on my wrist or phone screen that I check religiously and that dictates most of my daily routine? What is the REAL time? Well all those thoughts didn't happen for me. My trust was placed in Apple and I knew that I had indeed slept until around 8.30am - it was actually 8.30am and I wondered about this 'time' business.

George Vernon Hudson proposed that we change the clocks to preserve the 'working hours' that we have; i.e. to make the most of daylight.

'To alter the time of the clock at the equinoxes so as to bring the working-hours of the day within the period of daylight, and by utilising the early morning, so reduce the excessive use of artificial light which at present prevails.'

As a human being who loves nothing more than chasing the sunsets/sunrises, and believes that the sunlight makes a real difference to our mental and emotional wellbeing, i.e. I believe that for many of us, living in darkness can be a real challenge and there is something about the natural sunlight that enhances our mood and also allows us to live in a more appreciative way that is more connected to our environment and other people. But this is for another post... My writing here is more about the questions my sister raised and also questions I carry around myself too.

'What does time mean? Do we ever know what the time really is anyway?'

Well of course the clocks change twice a year for very valid historical and indeed philosophical reasons, but the essence of this question is something that I always carry with me. I have experienced different cultures that have different attitudes towards time; and indeed different generations and their attitudes towards time. Even different sub-cultures within our lives that are divided by job roles or family roles or age categories. Life experiences shape who we are but they also shape our ideas and relationship with the concept of time. We turn our clocks backwards or forward, most of us without giving it a second thought. Perhaps, ironically, we are too focused on a time in the past or future to look and listen to what we are doing in the present.

The point is, is that we do this - we adjust our clocks and have whatever thoughts we have because this is just what we do. There are too many things that we do just 'because' - too many things that we do without paying attention to our thinking because we are too preoccupied trying to do it 'in time'. Ironically time seems to run out before we have even really allowed ourselves the time we had readily available to us. Physically and literally time is time; 60 seconds, 60 minutes, 24 hours... These are all units of time that we can contextualize and understand. Sitting in a philosophy talk recently I realised that my scientific thinking rationalized and debated with much of the philosophical debating such as 'why is time as it is? Why do we think it is as it is...' so this is not what I wonder. I realise that after years of psychology I was actually somewhat disappointed to find myself cognitively and scientifically reasoning with the discussion.

Back to my point -  emotionally and mentally how much of our time do we dedicate to allowing ourselves to fully exist in the moment we are so well versed at denying or rushing through? What I have seen, perhaps more recently so, is that when something is approaching an end we have a tendency to want to hold onto it for longer; to enrich what we have left, to make the most of it, to appreciate it more, to take from it something real and meaningful. To look at the nuances of what we have rather than to touch the surface and no more.

It is Monday morning and time means that I must now go to work... I hope the hours of this day are not just surface hours. I hope they are hours that are more than surface-deep.

Happy Monday :)

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