We are currently preparing five talks to be presented on a cruise ship a couple of weeks from now. They are discussions on Science and the title of one is ‘It’s about time’. We have been reading, thinking and talking about time. In doing so, we have realized how the way we relate to time seriously affects how we live and relate to others. I will not dwell here on the science of time but instead share a few thoughts on the philosophy of time.
Humans have been captivated by exploring the boundaries of time since the beginning. Our literature, art and film-making reflect a committed desire to understand time and how to relate to it in ways that create health and empowerment. We have developed much language around our relationship with time, using verbs such as making time, losing time, wasting time, killing time, escaping time and using time (just to name a few).
‘The Sword and the Stone’ by T.H. White introduces us to a character called Merlyn who is a wizard. He attempts to explain to Wart (the main character) what it is like to live time backwards while everyone else is living it forwards. Merlyn remembers the future but does not know about the past which creates confusion for him when relating with others who experience time in the forward direction. Interesting to read! And, Norton Juster expands our thinking on time in ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ through a character called the Watchdog. As he relates to a boy called Milo, he describes what life was like before time was made and speaks with great wisdom about the different types of stillness. It is definitely worth a read. There is an entire genre of literature (science fiction) which explores the possibilities of how humans may, or may not, experience life in the future. And, of course, there are whole libraries around the world with books describing all manner of versions of past human lives and activities. Sacred texts tell of times when ‘the sun stood still’, ‘one day is like a thousand years’, ‘a thousand years is like a day’, and ‘there was silence in heaven for time, time and half a time’. They also speak of a person called ‘the Ancient of Days’ and explore themes around timelessness and eternity. We have poetry and songs from all over the world using lyrics to speak of the rhythms of days, tides, seasons, love and suffering.
Three of my favourite movies that contain strong time themes are: ‘Back to the Future’, ‘About Time’ and ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’. They all encourage us to think more deeply about time.
Well, ‘Time has run away with me’ (and I am not sure whether that’s a good/bad thing but perhaps don’t tell my husband!). I will leave you with a quote from the Watchdog:
Why, did you know that there are almost as many kinds of stillness as there are sounds? But, sadly enough, no one pays any attention to them these days. (The Phantom Tollbooth)
L’chayim (to life!), Lyn