Welcome to 2014 – the Second Year After the End of the World

Time often comes strongly to my mind at the passing from one year into another. I’m fascinated by time. It’s movement. It’s malleability and changeability. It’s great importance to our society. Perhaps the most interesting thing about time is the fact that we, human beings, made it all up. This interesting little thing we created, time, is kept in its place of importance through the agreement of human beings. 1:00pm means something because so many of us agree it does. We schedule our lives around the numbers and use many devices to remind us what time it is now. Yet we should know that the “is” in any reference to time is a bit fuzzy, not nearly as concrete as we try to make it. After all, if it were daylight savings time (DST), 1pm would instead be 2pm to those who follow the convention of DST. Those who live in states ignoring DST would still be living at 1pm.

While this is a common sense example, it illustrates the fact that time is not a fixed thing. What is more fixed are our agreements about it. We agree about time: what time it is, how long each unit of time is, how fast those units speed by, what we do at or around certain times displayed by our devices, and even the importance or lack of importance time has in the first place. In our current American society, time ranks up there with money as two of our highest secular gods. To mark our lives most of us use these two factors in  some way as measuring sticks – how much time and/or money do we have; can we get; and can we amass, to rank ourselves. How do we rate amongst our peers, what’s our place on the ladder of importance. Then we bend our lives around our agreements to make our realities  conform.

If we can build a reality around the agreement of time, or money, or anything else, then why can’t we purposely build a reality around the things that are most important to us? We as human beings have the ability to effect so many things by agreement. Yet, we most often let the default agreements govern. Perhaps it’s time, at the beginning of a new year,  to question the underlying agreements of our lives and decide what we really want to agree to going forward.


[ *For a neat look at the potential vagaries of time, and the changes it can make in reality, I recommend Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman ]

  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)