Roy is an avid writer, aspiring diplomat, and inquisitive traveller. His articles mainly focus on examining world politics, exploring Japanese culture, and understanding the human self. To read more from Roy, you can follow his wordpress blog, SOBABOY, here.
In our societies today, time has become a quantitative concept. From the moment we were taught how to provide appropriate answers to “how old are you?”, we have been unconsciously inducted into the tradition of understanding time the same way we conceive speed, acceleration, or other scientific concepts – we inevitably put a ruler to all that we chance upon. That is how time became analogous with an impartial master, who moves on while waiting for no one. Benjamin Franklin went even further and attempted to convince humankind that time was equivalent to the notes and coins we have in our wallet, an idea that became enshrined in the now oft-used business proverb, “time is money”.
But I wish you could take a moment to understand time the way I do.
If you understand time the way I do, you will cease to conceptualise time numerically. Instead, you will realise that time is akin to having unforgettable conversations with a soulmate. Unlike a river that flows by indefinitely, time only comes when you take the initiative to search for it, to uncover what is beyond the mundanity of everyday primal needs. When you move away from conventionality to know time like never before, you may, like me, begin to perceive time as the summation of the realest, most beautiful moments.
If you understand time the way I do, you will realise that time is not something that can be wasted or given away. Our language frequently tries to advocate otherwise, turning time into a possession that we can give or take at will. “What a waste of time”, “let me take some time off”, and “could you give me some of your time” are but a few cases in point of how we have been unconsciously conditioned to conceive time the same way we do for our material belongings. But if you try to familiarise yourself with time again, you may notice that time has never quite left you; in fact, it makes up an integral part of you. When you internalise the idea that time and you are but two sides of a coin, it will occur to you that time is always lived, but never wasted, given, or taken.
If you understand time the way I do, you will find yourself closer to time’s best friends – life and death. You will begin to appreciate that life and death are never a dichotomy that we have been made to believe, but a process that recurs possibly at every second of your life, because life and death are also fundamentally mental processes, rather than simply physical states. You will also become a dauntless lion, unfazed by the point of ultimate human demise, or “physical death”. If you understand this particular quality of time, you will comprehend that time is too precious for you to live perpetually in fear of an outcome that actually matters little to you.
If you understand time the way I do, live it in the best way you possibly can. Chase the butterflies, ace the public speech, and take on that skydiving dream that you have. Travel half the world to find your soulmate, visit all 7 wonders of the world, fall asleep soundly on the couch with your favourite puppy in your arms. Fight so hard in a soccer game with your teammates that you become physically paralysed for a day, dance so gracefully that all your elderly neighbours leave their homes to watch. But perhaps most importantly, I wish you understand that when you sell time away, you begin attaching a monetary value to time that degrades it from a qualitative concept to a quantitative one.
The commodification of time might be a necessary process for our survival in the 21st century, but the danger lies in that we live in a society that trains our eyes to see perceive all time as economic value. It is then crucial to learn how to remove such lens and delve into the deeper realms of life, more often than we think we need to. The materialist may denounce this interpretation as ridiculous, the cynic laughable, the naysayer naïve, but it is ultimately you who will chance upon the bountiful and vibrant garden of life, if you understand time the way I do.