Life involves a series of limitations under which the seething mass of humanity toils. One of those limitations goes by the name of ‘Time’.
And yet, as a species that has more collective knowledge than sense, it is interesting that we do not afford Time the treatment that it should deserve.
Now you could undoubtedly find a number of reasons to cease reading right here and, it’s probably an understandable position. Bare with me just a little longer, as i clear the cobwebs and aim at a bit of straight thinking. What am i really trying to say?
Rather than dwell on time from all the perspectives of our understanding (or lack of), my thoughts are moving to the idea of simply working on time as a finite resource. We all know that we will eventually die. We all know that our early years are primarily formative, and our later years predominatly degenerative, and we know (even if only acknowledged at a subconscious level) that the time we have in between these extremes is terrifyingly brief.
Let’s say we use the approximate life expectancy of 83. For the sake of the thought process we will ignore the differential between men and women, and any genetic predisposition to longer or short lifespans. We’ll simply assume that our alloted time on earth is limited to 83 years. Although anyone under the age of 18 is going to argue against this, i am going to start by assuming that the years up until this point are spent growing, learning, socialising, and arranging the basic building blocks of our selves into something resembling the ‘me’ that will take my self through the next 65 years. Let’s assume that from age 75 our health may be declining but even if it isn’t, our interest in learning anew has probably reached some kind of edge, after which the idea of learning new things is probably a bit of a stretch.
Ok, so my ages are arbitrary, questionable and poorly argued and there still isn’t any clear point being made. Just a little bit longer.
We have now narrowed down the years that i want to deal with to a manageable figure – somewhere around 57 years. Just what limitations are we faced with when looking to fill those 57 years with a full, fun, and varied life? Remember, i am dealing here with an “average”, and for the sake of clarity that average is middle class Australia. So we are assuming that these 57 years will be filled with a series of jobs, a couple of marriages and at least one divorce, as well as the “average” emotional traumas of family and friends’ deaths, illnesses and a rotation of relationships. The average week is taken up with a good deal of time spent earning a living or meeting family and friend relationship obligations. Statisticians tell us that we will spend quite a bit of time esconsced in a chair, soaking up mammoth amounts of modern media. In the modern world we are increasingly subjected to the drenching input of continuous stimulation in the form of sound and vision. We could begin to ponder methodologies of working out likely free time after accounting for these but we may start to be distracted by less important modelling criteria.
The end result of these ponderings is an understanding of just how little time is likely to be made available to think.
Some may argue that this could be worked on through meditation techniques but that is likely to miss the point. i am not looking for some yogic form of moving to a higher plane, nor am i looking at an abandonment of thought in the search for purely meditative time.
Rather, i am seeking an identification of the likely time that is available to simply ponder the big things. Not life, the universe and everything but simply “me”. Time to think about the self. This could be critical or not. It could be a good thing or it may not.
Actually, we could look at it another way. How about we start from the other end? That is, we consider just how many blocks of time we currently allow for simply thinking? Thinking free of external stimulation and free of any particular objective for our thought.
There are all sorts of angles to my ponderings on this issue of limited time. How about the limitations that it places on our ability to ‘fit’ things into our lives. Perhaps not thinking but something as simple as holidays? How many times in a lifetime do you expect to have a month long holiday? How many times do you expect to achieve something that is an ideal for you? Maybe it is spending a complete day with a parent, sibling, child or friend? How about the number of books you intend to read? Read a bit of history and you will find that those who are ‘high achievers’ cram their lives full of action steps towards particular outcomes. If you are studying, just how many original references can you read? Will this limit your scope of interest or will you narrow the terms of reference so that you can hold more core texts?
We are all a little scared of our mortality, and maybe this is why we spend so little time contemplating just what we want to achieve in our lives, the likelihood of getting there and a few fallback plans if things go astray?
This has been a rather rambling thought process, which goes to show how poorly formed the germ of an idea really was. The thought is still in my mind, which means this particular post has been unsuccessful in helping me to clarify and identify the point. Pity. Will perhaps have to return to it. Sometime. When i have Time.