All we want as a species is time. Not money. Not success. Not love. Not experiences. Not death. All we want is time.
Has it ever occurred to you, as it just did to me only moments ago whilst I was chomping on a piece of burnt toast topped with a thick layer of hummus; that time is literally all that we are looking for? It is the one thing that we consciously know that we have, yet perhaps, arguably, sub-consciously feel that we can never get enough of.
In reading this sentence you are closer to your death than you have ever been before.
It’s freaky, right?
Time is an intangible commodity that many of us treat as infinite yet our bodies and minds interpret oppositely. In the existentialist view of time we are autonomous entities who exercise our free will by bringing energy, matter and molecules into form and time. Certain branches, or off-shoots, of classical science; such as Quantum Theory propose that quantum superposition demonstrates that particles can be shown to be in multiple places, traveling at different speeds, whilst housing differing amounts of energy. Essentially time, as we know it, may only be part of it’s over-arching future picture, but in regards to time as we feel it – as a mass of circles on circles, with little pokey-out lines attached to smaller lines, hanging off a large spinal curve – we are often at odds living inside an increasingly straight and linear world. As Alan Watts once said: “you’re trying to straight[en] out a wiggly-world and no wonder you are in trouble.”
When you consider the opening sentence to this article, it sounds totally factually incorrect. For of course as a species, or a grouping of single entities, we do feel that we want the above, but I wonder: what is the collective driving force behind these supposed wants?
Money, for example, can buy us a sense of domesticated security, far-flung and exotic – and equally local and quaint – experiences, nice trinkets to have tangible interactions with and to form memories from. Money also = time. Time that you willingly, or otherwise, gave of your existence on Earth to earn back pieces of highly processed and symbolically printed on slivers of pulped wood. Interestingly, throughout history work, in the classical sense, has been as revered as it has been loathed. Nice to see that somethings don’t change.
Success is my personal favourite. I find success so interesting because it can mean different things to different people. Sure, in the traditional sense to be seen as ‘successful’ means that you have earned lots of money (naturally, spending lots of time single-mindedly making ‘it rain’) and now look at all these nice, shiny things that you have to show for it. Including your ego, why it polishes up beautifully!
Yet, in my generation, I can also see success is taking somewhat of an inverted detour back to the self and that new, more personal, parameters are beginning to be set in place. It appears that success can nowadays also mean that people chooses to engage morals where their mouths are. Many individuals are now taking a successful stance against, oh I don’t know, let’s say the leading cause of land and water pollution, species extinction, habitation destruction, human rights violations and abuse of non-human animals to the highest degrees of madness. Yet, to become successful at anything requires one thing: time. It takes time to get that shit right! It takes time to make mistakes and to start again, to feel one way at aged twenty-two and a world away from this strange person ten years later. (Yes I am referencing myself).
Success is only ever an overnight process when it takes many years to get there.
Onto love. Love is a bitch. And when I say “bitch” I really mean “a well-trained female show dog.” Always superficially on-point for the prize! Yet, as lovely as love is, it is often rendered obsolete and wholly impractical if you don’t take some time to learn to love and respect enough of yourself first. Then, subsequent ‘pairings’ with members of the opposite sex won’t ultimately waste too much of your time. Be like a train-track with your partner: forever connected yet with enough distance and space between you both to continue on your own path should one of you decide to suddenly veer off in a new direction at the next junction.
Experiences, in my experience, represent human beings truly wonderful and impulsive nature, yet equally short-sighted outlook if you believe that you are going to stay this person forever. Why not free up some room for who you are going to become? You don’t have to pack it all in now you know. Perhaps future John Smith might benefit infinitely more from visiting the cobbled streets of an academic town where students come to study in the light, yet appear to be mostly in the dark.
Experiences also represent all that we have…but would it be presumptuous of me to say that time-ing is as fundamental to the experience as the experience it’s self? What I personally wanted to experience at twenty-eight years old, when in true anarchic style I gave the two-fingered salute to my own country and culture in search of sunnier shores; is in NO way what I would want to experience now, many years later. Future Laura might wish to pack up and leave again at some point in time, but for now? Chill. There are plenty of experiences to go around, but always more than you will ever be able to do. The older I get the more I see that it comes down to: best use of time = conscious choices, baby!
Ah death…unquestionably you are the least of what any of us want. I am sorry that you get such a hard rap and seriously, it’s nothing personal, only that you scare the shit out of most of us.
You are seen as the taker of time and the eraser of time, the keeper of time and the serpent of time; but in actual fact, you are the giver of time. Whilst you are not around then time remains still on our sides.
You see time, linear or otherwise, was never truly ours in the first place. We are actually only the guardians of it. Just as the apex of a wave gives it’s life and embraces death upon crashing onto the pebble-lined shores of the Mediterranean coast; we come and go from this reality just like it’s ‘ebb and flow’. We are in time now because it is our time to be. We are here to pass through time and at the same time to be timely with our human experience. We might not think that time is truly what we are searching for, mainly because many of us think that time began when we were born and will stop when we die, but I now (well, as of an hour and a half ago) agree to disagree!
So, moving forward, knowing that time is in actual fact what we are all subconsciously working towards having more of; what will you do with yours? Whatever pops into your head might be a version of yourself that wants to help you find your place in time, as well as your peace there. A place where you become conscious that whilst time is indeed finite and transitory, that what you are and who you are right now matters.
It matters because when you look out of your eyes at ‘the wiggly world of nature’, you are looking at yourself. All this outside world no longer left outside. All this time to understand that everything that you externally seek out to bring you happiness will help you more in the long-run, once you see that whilst timing is everything; everything is also time.
Time to go!