Thursday, May 31, 2012

T is for time

Time: Like money, we want more of it, inevitably waste some of it and we can lose all of it. Unlike money, we can never make any more. A friend of mine, an incredibly bright economist, once said to me that “time is the most valuable commodity of all: If you lose all your money, you can make more; you can replace your things; most of the time your health can be restored if you get sick or are injured. But if you run out of time, that’s it.”

This seems so obvious, but how many of actually, truly realise how time is more valuable that money? The 2011 movie In Time (movie trailer) is about a future world in which the genes that control ageing have been switched off and time has replaced money; the rich can live forever and the poor struggle to live another day. In that world, time really is money.

Here in our world, we all act as if time is limitless, even though we know how silly that is. We’ve all heard the expression, “no one ever says on their deathbed, ‘gee, I wish I’d spent more time at work…’” The expression is meant to make us appreciate the time we have, to worry and obsesses less about the things that don’t make us happier or that make us unhappy. We seldom heed the advice.

Time also has what I think is one of the most poetic definitions in my dictionary: “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.” It stretches from our most distant ancestors to those who will follow after us into the future. We’re all part of that same “indefinite continued progress of existence and events”.

Some people believe that there’s an existence after physical death. Others believe there’s nothing. We know through science that we are all, as the late astronomer Carl Sagan so memorably put it, “made of star stuff”, that is, everything in the universe is made of matter that’s recycled endlessly. Existence, in that sense, at least, really is timeless.

May we all enjoy whatever time we have!

The image at the top of this post is a royalty-free photo by Dean Jenkins, and is available from morgueFile, which, despite the creepy, out-of-time name, is a great source for digital stock photos. The name is an old newspaper term for folders of old clippings and photos that might be useful one day; nowadays it’s used in newsrooms to describe files of old issues of the paper. The term is also used by folks in all sorts of visual creative professions for files of images that are kept for reference—and that’s part of the mission of the morgueFile site.

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Carver said...

Fantastic post. So true about time and its value. Carver, ABC-Wed. Team

Roger Owen Green said...

I was listening to a podcast - can't remember which one - and Samuel Delany(?), the sci fi writer who is now 70, structured his current book on the fact that when we're young, time takes forever, but when we are older, it slips by so quickly.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team