Do you have THE time?

Do you have THE time? This question once distinguished those who had a watch and those who did not. Today, I can just as easily answer this question with my watch, cell phone, GPS, PDA or WIFI computer. I simply need to observe the time and state it in either Greenwich Mean Time or 24 hour military style. I could be somewhat facetious and say “Well, it depends on what time you want?” When we ask for the time, we are usually only requesting chronological time. We assume that the person making the request only wants to know what time of day it is.

What if they wanted to know the time they had left to live? What if they were looking for the time that the world had left to survive? What if they wanted to know how long you were really going to stay with them? In marriage vows, we say “until death do us part.” None of us know how long that will be or whether it will really last that long. Yet we make that commitment to stay with the other person as long as we live. In reality, it means as long as we still feel like we love them. We make commitments of time that are impossible to live up to since we do not really know the time. We cannot say how long the world will survive or how long we will survive. We cannot even really say how long we will live with anyone. The most we can say about time is what time we think it is right now.

The next time someone asks you if you “have the time,” try replying with “Well, yes I have it and if I give it to you, what will you do with it?” Alternatively, “Do you really need it?” Or, “When will I get it back?” The point here is to not take words for granted and to try to see what else they could mean. As Alice in Wonderland was told, “Do not presume to know what words mean.” Do you assume too much when others speak? Do you try to check out the meaning of words and feelings? Do you think that you know the meaning of the words without validating your assumptions? What if you checked out the meaning of words more? Do you think it would improve your communication skills?

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