Do you have the time or is that what you really want?

Do you have THE time?  This question once distinguished those who had a watch from those who did not.  Today, anyone can just as easily answer this question with a cell phone, IPAD, GPS or car.  We simply need to observe the time and state it in either Greenwich Mean Time or 24 hour military style.  One 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.  But what if they really want to know something else?
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 knows how long that will be or whether it will really last that long. The fact of the matter is most marriages barely last ten years. Yet we make a 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 say how long we will love anyone.  Times change, feelings change and we change. The most we can say about time is what time we think it is right now.  The future of time remains murky at best.
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?”  Or, “What time are you referring to.”  This sounds nonsensical, but the point here is not to take words for granted.  They could mean many other things.  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?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bgalbreath
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 14:34:58

    Poor Richard's Almanac: “Time lost is never found again.”

    Rude joke
    Q:”What time is it?”
    A: “Ten to.”
    Q: “Ten to what?”
    A: “Ten to your own business.”

    Q: “What time should you go to the dentist?”
    A: “Tooth-hurty”.

    I had a philosophy professor once who argued that God could not really be omniscient because He did not know what time it was (because he existed outside of time).

    It's true that we (try to) make commitments that, strictly speaking, we have no business making. When the time comes to fulfill them, we may be dead, or penniless, or no longer in love. Yet, it seems to me that we used to more frequently live up to our commitments when there were fewer escape hatches. Marriages lasted longer (and people died earlier) resulting in a higher proportion of unions lasting until death. There is something positive in fidelity to one's commitments, not just for your counter party, but to yourself, your own personal integrity. The negative is suffering for one's long ago foolishness. You'd think that if we knew it was really hard to get out of it, we would be less prone to foolishness. But the facts show that, when the escape hatch of divorce was hard to use, almost everyone got married. Now that getting out of marriage is easier, fewer and fewer people are bothering to do it. Go figure.



  2. John Persico
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 20:50:21

    You sound like you miss the good old days Bruce? I think things have changed but I find they don't fit my paradigm of integrity but that they may meet a different definition and be no less to those who practice a different standard. My students seem to have a different idea of respect but the standards have changed and I find them less respectful but I have a different standard than they do. Its tough getting old and trying to judge the new generation by old generation standards and ideas.



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