Measured Time – it allows humans to be efficient and productive, to travel and communicate and to have global economies.
But it also separates us from our natural sense of the world. We rely on our phones, clocks, and watches – not our own awareness of the passage of daylight.
The only thing natural about measured time is that it was originally based on one revolution of the earth around the sun. However, with the invention of the quartz clock, our underlying unit of time changed from the second to something nearly a million times smaller.
Somehow, this shift seems to have passed by largely unnoticed by general society.
However, this is significant. It is the moment when our timepieces “broke free” of the very concept where time originated: our planet’s daily rotation.
As I sit here writing this, there is an old clock on the wall about 6 feet from me, its ticking the only sound in the room besides the scratching of my pencil on paper and the sighing of my dog Jack.
Having grown up with clocks in my house, there is something comforting about this small regular clicking. But when I strip away that nostalgic sense and dig a little deeper, I begin to question its presence. Why exactly do I need to be continuously reminded of the passing seconds?
The sun hanging low above the southern trees outside my window tells me all I truly need to know - that it is a little past noon, and there are only a few hours of light left in this early winter day.
What happens if we throw out time?
If we stop setting alarm clocks, will we never wake up? If we don’t have an exact appointment time, will we never meet anyone?
For so many people, our sense of worth is connected to our progress over time: the minutes, the hours, the days and years.
What if, instead, we realize that our worth actually lies in our presence – in the energy we invest into whomever and whatever is around us at any given moment?
I know we can’t just snap our fingers and erase an entire society built upon the measurement of time…
But maybe we can find small ways to lessen its control over our actions and loosen its stress-inducing value system, thereby freeing ourselves to more fully experience joy in the present.