J J Hanna
A few Thoughts on Time
Time. It weaves in and out of itself, never stopping, never slowing down. Yet, it also never speeds up, and when there are long stretches of unfilled hours time seems to drag its feet. Yet, even when time is racing in a whirlwind, the past can be called up to the present. It’s very easy to think about what happened a few moments, a day, a week, even a few years ago, but that doesn’t stop time from continuing on in its insistent way. Time is a strange concept and I think the Doctor from BBC’s television show Doctor Who summed it up nicely in an iconic and well-known episode, “Blink.” He said, “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.” I can almost see the ways the “time streams” line up and separate, twisting and weaving together like the pair ribbons of a skilled ribbon dancer. Sometimes, when we think about memories, the time ribbons touch. Sometimes they move in the same direction, mimicking each other in ways that are beautiful and only possible by skilled dancers. The ribbons never tangle, despite the fact that they constantly zip around and around each other. I’ve been thinking about time a lot recently, as I never seem to have enough of it. There are so many things that I must get done in a day that I fail to be able to do the things I want to do. It makes me wish I could find a timeless place, where nothing progressed toward the future except for me, giving me the space to not age but also continue working productively. If I could stop time, I could get all of my homework done in a matter of minutes rather than a few hours. Once my homework was done, I could allow time to continue and then enjoy my favorite things (that, ironically, I do to pass the time). I think there’s a very logical reason why this isn’t how things work, though. If I could stop time in order to do my homework, what’s to stop me from staying in that state of timelessness and doing what I love for all of eternity? Why should I ever exit that state and allow myself to be assigned more homework? Or, even better, I could stop time, watch an entire season (or entire series) of a show and then rejoin the rest of the world, and do my homework in the restraints of a normal day. The temptation that accompanies time travel is to stay outside of time forever. What human would not choose to be free of the restraints of the twenty four hour day? Why should we ever stop working? Or, why should we ever stop playing? I think there is a sense of necessity tied in with time. Humans need time, just as they need air. It gives them a way to structure their lives so that they don’t mull about randomly in all the possibilities of life. The pressure that comes along with time is good, it spurs things into action. In the same way that you can’t get a diamond from coal without pressure, often you could never get results without the pressure of time. While time is an abstract concept, I think it’s also a good thing to think about. We only have so much time in our lives, and unless someone creates a way to suspend our consciousness so that we can exist outside of time (which, while cool, would probably bring more harm than good), we will eventually run out. The challenge then is to be intentional with the time we have. Because even as each day ends with sleep, eventually our life must end with death. So lets enjoy the ribbon dancing of time between there, catching onto the memories and enjoying the beauty of our fleeting lives.