Since it first came into the awareness of humans, Time has been an important focus of magic, science, art, spirituality and philosophy. Its measurement has preoccupied our technology, from the placement of stones, to the analysis of electrons, to the study of the heavens and the zodiac. Time is also of significant social importance; it is how we measure worth in economic terms (time is, after all, money). And how we parse it out is crucial in defining many human values, thanks to our awareness of our limited time in each waking day and our human lifespans.
What is time? Of course, if I had an easy, complete answer, I would be a zillionaire, or (more likely) traveling through it to the past and future. Whatever they actually may be!
According to Wikipedia, “There are two distinct views on the meaning of the word time.
“One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence, and time itself is something that can be measured. This is the realist’s view, to which Sir Isaac Newton subscribed, and hence is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time.
“A contrasting view is that time is part of the fundamental human intellectual structure (together with space and numbers) within which we sequence events, quantify the duration of events and the intervals between them, and compare the motions of objects. In this second view, time does not refer to any kind of entity that ‘flows,’ that objects ‘move through,’ or that is a ‘container’ for events. This view is in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, in which time, rather than being an objective thing to be measured, is part of the measuring system used by humans.”
In other words, Time is either a scientific fundamental quantity, like velocity or force, because it cannot be measured by anything else. Or else it is basically a construct of human consciousness, and an observation of events and motion, like the movement of the sun, the swing of a pendulum, or the beat of our heart.
Trying to solve the enigma of time is way, way beyond the scope of my knowledge or expertise, of course. But to have an increased awareness of its fluidity and fundamental mystery may be of some comfort as we attempt to make peace with it.
As Michael Ende, author of The Neverending Story wrote, “There is in the world a great and yet ordinary secret. All of us are part of it, everyone is aware of it, but very few ever think of it. Most of us just accept it and never wonder over it. This secret is time.”
Tomorrow, we’ll begin to weave some magic with this powerful, ordinary mystery. And once again, I encourage you to give yourself the gift of five minutes of no doing, just being.