Day 358 of the Calendar Year

An old Celtic Saying goes: “When God made time, he made enough of it.” How could this be? How could there ever be enough time? Most of us are fond of declaring that we have “no time” or that we are “too busy.” The song “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce has the following lyrics:

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them.

We are always running short of time, running out of time, not having enough time, having to makeup time, having to catch up, running late, etc., etc. “No Time, No Time” has become the mantra of the 21st century. How could God have made enough time? We never ever have enough. What could the Celts have been thinking?

Well, what if the Celts were right? What if there is enough time? What if all of our running around and frantic efforts to save time are like trying to stop the wind or push the tide back into the ocean? Imagine, someone with a bucket on the beach trying to shovel all of the water back into the ocean before it can creep up on the beach. What if we are doing the same thing with time? What if all of our efforts to save time simply are wasting our lives? What if we lived one day at a time and one moment at a time each day? What if we could ignore time and believe that “God made enough of it.”

Repeat the following thought to yourself: “Today, tomorrow and next week, there will be enough time. I will always have enough time.” You will have no more time shortages. No more running out of time. There will always be enough time to do what you need to do. If you truly believed this, what difference would it make in your life? What would you do different today if you knew you would always have enough time? How would your life change if you always had enough time?

Day 357 of the Calendar Year

Changing times – “the times they are a changin.” Words made famous by Bob Dylan in his 1964 song and album. The times have been “a changing” ever since the first people discovered fire. The Romans conquered the known world. Then the barbarians overran the Roman Empire after which the dark ages came. This was followed by the reformation which was followed by the industrial revolution. Then the global information and computer age arrived. Times change so fast today, we buy one cell phone and it is obsolete when we get it home. Computers chips replace each other so rapidly; we cannot keep track of the numbers. Movies come and go in days and the top 40 songs last about 6 weeks.

Styles, fame, fortune, disasters and triumphs will last until you throw out today’s paper or as more likely, until you stop hearing about them on the web. When were times not changing? Are they really changing more rapidly today or is it just our myopic view of history? How could times not change? Isn’t that the very nature of time? It is a measurement of change. However, what if we did not measure it? What if we did not keep track of minutes, hours, days and years? Could anything change if we did not count the change? The obvious answer is yes. Seasons change, weather changes, we change. However, these changes are more constant. We cannot say the seasons change faster then they did 3000 years ago. Nor do we age any faster. If anything, our extra longevity should help to slow the world down for us. We have twice as long to live as they did during the Roman Empire.

Then why do we think things are changing so fast? Why does it feel like we can hardly keep up? Is it the pace of change or the number of events we now seem to have to deal with? Has the speed of change really increased? Perhaps we should have a measure for the speed of change. We measure speed of movement, why not a measure for the number of changes we are faced with daily? Instead of miles per hour, we could call it ACPD (Average Changes per Day). The daily news would report the number of changes per day along with the weather. “Today there was 4,072 changes in St. Paul. However, this was dwarfed by the changes in Tokyo which topped 1 million today.” We could keep an Index of Change like the stock market indexes. We could watch each week to see if the index was going up or down.

Of course, there would be some problems with measuring change. For instance, should each time a newborn baby say their first word be counted as a change? Is each new cell phone a change or simply a revision? Is the New Tide really new? What about changes in your life? Has your life changed very much? What were the most significant changes you have experienced? Do you think your life is going faster or slower? Why, what has changed for you? Do you wish things would slow down or speed up?

Day 356 of the Calendar Year

Racing against time or racing the clock. Is there any difference? Time is short, you are running late and you just found out about a deadline to meet: A play to catch, a movie to watch, a party to go to, or some other event and you have to move fast to make it. Time is critical; you can not waste a second. You must do only what is called for and in the most efficient order possible. Can you do it? You don’t know but you will sure try. You are racing against the clock. Did you ever watch that TV show, where they were given a grocery cart and they had one minute to fill it with as much stuff as they could? I think it was called “Beat the Clock.” The contestants raced like crazy to try and put as much of the “high” value items as they could in the shopping cart. Forget the pickles, get the steaks in!

How often do we run like there is no tomorrow only to find it did not make a bit of difference? The play was cancelled. The party was called off. You were the only one there. They changed the date and did not tell you. Something came up at the last minute. Who cares about your time? There was really no race. You were racing yourself. You were the only contestant in the event. Did you think you were so important that your presence would be missed? Was the race really important?

Each day, you probably spend some of your time racing against the clock. When you are racing against the clock, are you spending your precious time on the “high” value things of life? Are you going for the steaks? Or are you simply running like a rat in a wheel and going nowhere fast. Where did you get to? What prize did you win? When was the last time you raced the clock? Did you beat the clock or did the clock beat you? How much of life do you spend racing time? Is it worth the prize?

Day 355 of the Calendar Year

Borrowed time – We have all heard the expression “you are living on borrowed time.” Of course, this means to go on living after the time you should have died. The phrase goes back to the seventeenth century (see http://www.phrases.org.uk). My sister was given several weeks to live after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. She went on to live five more years and even survived one round of hospice care to live a few more years after that. She just did not want to die. She lived many happy if not healthy years on borrowed time. I wondered who she paid this time back to and who she actually borrowed it from.

I think if you live life like there will be no tomorrows you are living on borrowed time. We all know people who disproportionately flaunt the risks of life. People who drink and drive are living on borrowed time. People who ride motorcycles without wearing a helmet are living on borrowed time. People who do not exercise or watch their weight are living on borrowed time. People who smoke are living on borrowed time. Each day you cheat death, is a day you owe to someone.

Are you one of the people living on borrowed time? What is the cost you pay for living on borrowed time? Who do you borrow this time from? Who do you pay it back to? When do you think they will come to collect? I think you borrow it from those who love and care for you.

Day 354 of the Calendar Year

The oldest person in the world! This is a title that takes years to earn and once you earn it, you probably will not hold it very long. Last week, the oldest person in the world was 114-year-old Yone Minagawa from Japan. Sadly, by the time this blog is posted, there will probably be another title holder. The chance to earn the “oldest living person” in the world designation is slim for most of us. However, recent studies report that the odds of living past 100 are growing. The US Department of Census projects that there could be over four million Americans reaching age 100 or more by 2050. Super Centenarians are those people who live to over 110 years of age. A study by Robin and Vaupel (2001) shows that in the world as a whole, the number of validated super-centenarians for whom adequate documentation is available is increasing. Other evidence also points to a world-wide increase in lifespan, thus making the age of 100 increasingly more likely for many of us.

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to live to 100 or more? You would have set foot in two centuries during one lifetime. You would have lived in five generations and possibly be a great great great or greater grandparent. If you had been born in the year 1900 and had lived past the year 2000, you would have lived through the horse and buggy era and now be living in the age of rockets and space travel. You would have lived in a time when there were no TV’s, cell phones, radios, computers or Internet and now be living in a time when all of these are common. What if you were born in 2000 and live to be 100? You would make it to the 22nd century. If we accept that we will make as much or more progress in the next 100 years as we have in the last, what changes do you think you would see? It is hard to imagine the same degrees of changes taking place between 2000 and 2100 as between 1900 and 2000 and yet it is inevitable. Furthermore, the changes will probably dwarf those of the past century. What do you have to do to live to 100? Studies seem to point to the following common factors among centenarians:

• Continuing to play a role in society
• Keeping in good physical shape
• Taking preventive measures against serious disease
• Looking on the bright side of life
• Being intellectually stimulated
• Believing that happiness can be achieved
• Having financial security
• Having a good life expectation
• Maintaining satisfactory social relationships

(Quality of life and longevity: a study of centenarians, Mariosa Dello Buono, Ornella Urciuou, Diego De Leo in Age and Ageing 1998; 27: 207-216)

Well, looking at this list, do you have what it takes? Will you live to 100 years of age? Do you think you might even obtain the oldest person in the world title? What would have to change in your life for you to be in the running? Which of the above factors do you need to work on? Would you like to live to 100 if you could be healthy and happy to that age?

Day 353 of the Calendar Year

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” This is the opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. He was referring to the time of the French Revolution. It is perhaps the most famous line in all of literature. Why? Not because we relate to the French Revolution, but because we can all relate to the sentiment. How many days in your life have you felt it was the best of times, but also the worst? We would probably all be rich if we had a dollar for each day or time we felt this way. Life brings us many ups and downs. Life is seldom all joy and happiness. In one day, in one hour, many of us can go from high to low. A brief moment can bring us news that will make us supremely happy or thoroughly sad. Death and destruction come at inopportune times. We can not plan them or control them. Happiness can be equally whimsical. One minute we can feel elated over some momentary triumph and the next minute we are dejected because it was not greater.

We have all had many days that were the best of times and the worst of times. Each day of our lives that we awake healthy can start out to be the best of times. By the end of some days, it has become the worst of times. We may end the day feeling totally used up and wondering if there is not more to life. The pressures and tribulations of the day have beaten our spirits down. By bedtime, we are ready for the oblivion of sleep. Happy only for a good nights rest that will help restore our mind and body, but mostly our willpower to face the next day. We hope to awake refreshed and ready to believe again that today will be the best of times and not the worst of times.

Can you get up today and face live with optimism and not defeat? Do you get up each day and look forward to the challenges that the day will bring? Have you been able to grow older but remain optimistic about life? Do you fully expect that there will be much pain but also great happiness in your life? Is today the best of times or the worst of times for you?

Day 352 of the Calendar Year

Poems on time or about time have probably been written since recorded history. If you enjoy poetry, the website: http://www.poemhunter.com has many good poems on a wide array of subjects including time. Poetry is a way of saying things very concisely but elegantly. Poetry is somewhat like calligraphy in its flowing beauty. Poets use fewer words than authors and express thoughts very succinctly but with great depth and emotion. The subject of time lends itself to poetry very well since time affects us in so many ways and concerns the past, present and future. Poetry has an inherent sense of rhythm which is a key element of time. There is hardly a subject that deals with so much of life as time and poets love subjects that are full of life and death.

I have used several poems in this book. I am not a good poet myself and have only written a few in my life. One I wrote, I called:


Mother and Father

Mother and father were born,
A long time ago.

Mother and father got married,
A long time ago.

Mother and father nursed me and played with me,
A long time ago.

Mother and father scolded me and spanked me,
A long time ago.

Mother and father stayed up all night and worried about me,
A long time ago.

Mother and father came to visit me,
A long time ago.

Mother and father died,
A long time ago.

Can you write a poem on time? Of course you can. Have you ever tried? Why not? Perhaps you and I will never be rich or famous poets, but there is a feeling of release that comes from writing poetry. Every one of us has a poem, a story and a song inside us just waiting to come out. Today is your day to be a poet. Sit down and write a short stanza or sonnet or haiku or even an entire poem. Write about life, death, family, friends, birth, weddings, nature, politics or whatever is on your mind.

Think about all of the poetry that you read on Hallmark cards. You can write as good as some of this poetry and they get paid for it. Will you do this poem for me? If you write it on Time, I would love to see it. Send it to my email address at persico.john@comcast.net. How does it feel to be a poet or poetess?

Day 351 of the Calendar Year

Are you familiar with the phrase “real time?” If I say it is happening in real time, what does that mean to you? Does that mean it’s not happening in “fake” time? If there is real time, then there must be fake time. However, no one ever uses the phrase “fake time.” Well, what is real time? According to most definitions, real time is happening now, not later, yesterday or tomorrow. It is happening in the present.

The term real time derives from its use in early simulation. While current usage implies that a computation that is ‘fast enough’ is real time, originally it referred to a simulation that proceeded at a rate that matched that of the real process it was simulating. Analog computers, especially, were often capable of simulating much faster than real time, a situation that could be just as dangerous as a slow simulation if it were not also recognized and accounted for. (Wikipedia.com)

So why don’t we just call it present time? The catch is that some things that can happen in real time can also happen at some other time pace. For now, let’s call the other time “fake” time. In fake time, something that will happen in twenty-four hours in real time can be compressed to 1 hour or even 1 minute in fake time. Game simulations often take place over years but play out on computers in minutes or hours.

Now what if we applied both these terms to “real” life? We shall speak of real time and fake time. Real time would mean that I was working, thinking, playing at a pace that matched that of the real world. Fake time would mean I was daydreaming, goofing off, being unproductive, zoning out, watching TV, on drugs or otherwise getting out of the present reality. Many people spend a great deal of their lives in fake time and avoiding real time. In real time, I must face the real world. In fake time, I only have to deal with a pretend world. In fake time, I travel to Hollywood with the stars. I participate in “reality shows.” I cheer for the Survivors and I live vicariously with the next Hollywood Idol. I can pretend I am Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Angelina Jolie, or Sarah Jessica Parker. In fake time, I can even make my very own video and post it on YouTube or MySpace and hope that someday I will be viewed and worshipped by the multitudes. To paraphrase Andy Warhol, “In fake time, everyone can have their 15 minutes of fame and glory.” However, Andy was pre-computers. He did not foresee that in today’s computer world, everyone can have hours and hours of fake time. Fake time is only limited by the amount of time you want to put into escaping real time. You can spend hours or days in fake time and only come out to eat and sleep.

What do you do with your real time? How much real time do you use in a day? How much of your day do you spend in fake time? Which time do you enjoy more? Why? Do you think you need a better balance in your life? Should you have more real time or fake time? What difference do you think it would make?

Day 350 of the Calendar Year

Closing Time – “Could you please tell me what your closing time is?” “It is closing time, would everyone please move to the front of the store.” “Oh my God, it’s almost closing time and I have not met anyone to go home with.” “Well, its closing time soon and I will be able to quit work.” Who is not familiar with the idea of closing time? Before 24/7, we had 7/11 stores. We thought that they were really something because they opened at 7 AM and closed at 11 PM. When once most businesses closed on Sundays and Holidays, today even Christmas and New Years are not observed by many stores. It’s common to find businesses, gas stations and shops that stay open all day, all night, every day. Of course, we still have zones and restrictions concerning closing times for some establishments and times beyond which it is illegal to sell certain products. In some states, you can sell alcohol on Sunday and in others you may not. The closing times for bars vary from state to state as does their opening times. It is interesting that we have not gone 24/7 for everything.

Behind this trend towards more liberal opening and closing times is a combination of social, legal and technological forces. Socially we are becoming more diverse and we show less inclination to honor holidays associated with any one religion. Technologically, we have the means to schedule and staff more hours than ever before. Computers and the Internet have opened up many retail opportunities for the enterprising entrepreneur who does recognize time barriers. Legally, politicians have seen no compelling reasons to block people from shopping or working whenever they want to. In a consumer driven economy, more shopping and more spending creates a stronger economy and more profits. Today we have telecommuting as well as teleshopping. If I decide to work at home, why should my starting and closing time be dictated by traditional rules of work? I can start later and “close shop” at 3 AM in the morning or whenever I stop being productive.

Some day, the concept of closing time may be an anachronism. It will be a relic of past times when people were bound to regular time clocks and cars. In the future, there may never be any closing times. Would you rather a 9 to 5 world or a 24/7 world? Why? What benefits do you get from each? Could we combine the best of both? Are there some days or times when everything should be closed? Should we have a day of rest from capitalism and consumerism?

Day 349 of the Calendar Year

There are many metaphors that involve time: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2-12-22) “God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.” (Genesis 1-2). A metaphor gives us an alternative picture of reality. Some metaphors can be taken quite literally, others are more symbolic. Since we cannot feel, taste, see or touch time, most time metaphors have to be symbolic. However, we can measure time, and that fact makes some symbolic interpretations of time very problematic. Could Jesus Christ really have destroyed the temple and rebuilt it again in three days? Did God really create the world in only seven days?

Here is a good explanation of the relationship between symbols and metaphors from the website of Dr. Rick Singleton, a professor at Southern Virginia University:

“One of the most recognizable objects from J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is the One Ring. It is the object that controls the other ring wielders, yet it is also the only one that has that power and will of its own. The One Ring symbolizes power, dominance, corruption, and evil. When we take the phrase “One ring to rule them all,” it then becomes a metaphor. Because the One ring is the subject and the object of the phrase, but it’s A is B relationship is simple to understand once we know the idea behind the ring and the phrase behind the metaphor.” http://www.hatrack.com/svu/tolkien_lewis/OSC%20Paper.html

It would be impossible to speak about time without speaking in symbols and metaphors. Each reflection in my blogs represents an abstraction that hopefully many of you reading these thoughts can relate to. I have tried to make these blogs interesting and useful by putting these abstractions on time into a different light or by creating new metaphors for some of them. The power of symbols and metaphors is in helping us to see and understand the world and ourselves in a different light. However, as we become accustomed to symbols and metaphors, they lose this power because we take them for granted. We allow them to become worthless because we no longer think about them.

For instance, when you see the Statue of Liberty, do you think about all the immigrants that came over and about the fighting that went on to free us from the British? When it is the Fourth of July, do you see Thomas Jefferson and the Continental Congress debating the text of the Declaration of Independence? Many metaphors become clichés such as: “sharp as a knife”, “he was a lame duck” or they were “like two ships passing in the night.” Repeated use brings dullness to the edge of metaphors. We say them, think we understand their meaning and quickly move on. In doing so, we ignore the deeper implications of each. We miss the more profound thoughts that are hidden beneath our surface understanding. For instance, why were they like ships passing in the night? What happened to them that they lost or missed their chance for a relationship? When did they first start to pass each other? What could they have done differently to not miss each other in the dark night?

My hope is that these many metaphors, symbols and concepts about time will help you to think about the world and your life differently. To see a different picture of those things that you may take for granted about time. Did God really make the world in seven days? Does it matter? What do you think?

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