Another episode from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Dane Allred".
Clocks are a reminder of where we are in our day. I wonder what it must have been like when there were only ten clocks in a village, instead of ten clocks in my kitchen. None of them have the same time. I wonder if listening to the town clock tower ring the parts of each hour gave villagers a comfort of the exactness of time.
I like the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. There is one part where the narrator talks about the concept of time to a Kalahari bushman. There is no Monday, no 8:00 A.M. no quitting time. No deadlines about this hour, this day, this minute. Some things can be done this week; some can wait until next week. No rush hour, no such thing as late to work, no overtime, and no such thing as clocks.
Clocks have been a useful thing to standardize our world. How can you leave Japan at such and such an hour and arrive in New York at a particular time unless there is way to keep track of the seconds, the minutes, the hours and the days.
The atomic clock keeps track of microseconds, and every year or two we have to adjust the “world clock” because the earth doesn’t spin in a orderly and timely manner. It doesn’t know that slowing down a bit screws up our clock, but then, the earth probably doesn’t care if we have to reset our clocks.
Here’s the problem with time. I teach students who are three times younger than me, and I like to play a mind game with time with them. Here’s the scenario. Say I am your teacher and I am 45 years old. If you are 15, then I am three times your age. If you add 15 years to both of our ages, then I will be 60 and you will be 30. I am only twice as old as you. I tell my students, if I live long enough, you will catch up, and maybe even pass me.
I wait for them to try to understand how I can be three times as old, and then only twice as old. They start to fear I might be right, that they would continue to age and pass me by. I even say to them I will patiently wait while eventually they get older than me. They look skeptical.
I don’t really carry a watch. I do have the time on my phone, which is another strange development. When you ask someone what time it is, now instead of looking at their wrists, they dig out the cell phone and tell me the time. One cool feature is that my phone can be updated with the “correct” time. What is the correct time? It’s beamed to my cell phone from some cell tower which gets it from some satellite somewhere or something like that. I still don’t trust it, but it is the “official” time.
It still makes me wonder what happened back in the day. I can see the close approximation of noon – the sun is straight above. You could use a sundial if the sun was shining. I really don’t know when we became so pre-occupied with time, but as we mark the new year, just remember, it’s just an artificial date chosen from all of the available dates we could have begun our calendar with.
If January 1st, is too soon for you, then celebrate the Chinese New Year on the 26th of January. Sorry, that was 2009. The Chinese New Year begins on February 14th in 2010. It can be anytime between late January and late February. It’s the year of the Tiger in case you were wondering.
There are New Year’s celebrations in March, April, in the fall, and there were even two in the Islamic calendar in 2008. Well, not two for them. They had one, but during our year, they had two. See how confusing it can be.
Even worse, if you are paying attention on New Year’s Eve, you will realize many, many people will celebrate the arrival of that fateful hour before you. Time zones are another thing I really wonder about. You step one direction and it’s an hour later or earlier. One step one way or the other and it’s another day? This is why those who are really wise tell us to live in the moment. That way, you’re never late since that moment is now, I mean now, I mean now.
Really, living in the moment means paying attention, and if that means enjoying the tradition of marking a new year, you will have to pay attention to that moment. May your new year bring all the hopes and joys you desire.
LITERATURE OUT LOUD
LITERATURE OUT LOUD -- see and hear great literature Audio narrations with synchronized visual text
The Complete Collection of
all 154 poems $3.99 DVD with FREE shipping
Click on the Amazon button to order
Essential Oils -- create your own business -- click on the logo to begin
Click on the player to hear an audio version of this piece