Monday, June 28, 2010

Clock time and natural time

In the 1920's a French critic of modern civilization argued that toward the very "end", things would speed up. We would have more and more choices, more things to acquire, and more things to do. This, he wrote, would be the human condition just before the collapse of Modern Civilization -- a civilization based on an almost exclusive devotion to the demons of money and time. Our current lack of time is a symptom of cultural bankruptcy. We have more options than a human being can manage. We are supposed to be parents, good workers, sexy mates, and personally well developed in every way. There is just not enough time.

There is clock time and natural time -- these two kinds of time may or may not match. It's possible to be "on time" by the clock, yet early or late by natural time. We can never be "on time" by racing against the clock -- the clock will always win, if not by the numbers, by wearing us down and making us die young of high blood pressure. When we are on natural time, we are always "on time". We are not either waiting or rushing. We are always in the right place at the right time. Doctors used to advise that newborn babies be fed at regular intervals such as 9 a.m., 12 noon, 3 p.m., etc. This was one method of taking natural time away from our lives.

The art of living is that of harmonizing clock time with natural time. Clock time holds the modern world together. So we need to adjust our clocks to fit human needs, not human needs to fit the clock. Airlines need to run on schedule. But human beings should just "show up" and move on as they will. I never looked at bus schedules, but I used buses all the time. I just showed up and waited. If there were enough buses coming up, I did not particularly worry about when the next bus came. If I plan my days properly, I move through my appointments with time to spare.

1 comment:

Marianne said...

Surely you are in a space where time isn't the ruler of the places and things you have to do. Love the beauty of the day.Maybe a flower or persons smile can take wings and give you even greater joy while you walk, talk, or even think,by knowing how you feel add many seconds, minutes, hours, and even a day to life everyday.