Where does the time go!

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by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

As we round the corner of the third quarter it is usual to muse upon the imperceptible exhaustion of time, that withering resource which is so beneficently granted each one of us in measured and uncertain portion. To scientists, to poets, to astronomers, to neighbourhood folk, the ripening of the seasons and the gyrations of the sun and moon are of sizeable potency. The severance of time into its organic and approachable allotments furnishes us the chance to reflect upon the progression and hopeful improvement of our lives, sometimes with alarming appeal. Prompted by the annual exuberance of the New Year we have flung ourselves headlong into the mix, spinning our fibers of productivity, nurturing whatever resources we have, attempting once again to marshal our strengths in the consummation of achievement. As another revolution nears completion nature teaches us to mull over and consider, to esteem the flush and kick of the last nine months.

But we have to ask, "Where does the time go!". One may as well attempt to gather water in one’s hands as to check the transition of time. Time is a journey which carries us along whether we care to or not. We strain to capture or decelerate time by photographs, videos, paintings and memories but they, like the whizzing trees we pass in our speeding travels, fall quickly behind and out of sight. Our preordination is ever forward and beyond, and normally at an increasingly rapid speed. Time becomes condensed.

In purely clinical terms it is quite possible to determine where the time goes. Simply calculate the daily time spent sleeping (including afternoon naps), grooming, meals (preparation, eating and clean-up), commuting, doing errands, extra-curricular activities (organizations, workouts, church, etc.), work and watching TV. There are 168 hours in a week.

For some the mystery of where time goes is rather a question of whether we’ll ever accomplish what we set about to do. Or it could be the more esoteric opinion of some physicists that subatomic particles called neutrinos appear to travel faster than the speed of light (which others hold to be a clear violation of Einstein’s theory of relativity). For others still time like energy can neither be created nor destroyed so what exists now shall exist forever (a boost no doubt to the theory of reincarnation).

Whatever the upshot of the question and no matter from whose lips it springs, the utterance exemplifies for all of us the marvel we sense at the fluidity of this commodity we call time. The question is in many respects purely rhetorical. We all know where the time has gone, some accept its unfolding history as healthful and kind, others see it as a transition of waste and depletion. And there isn’t one of us who isn’t shocked by the change from "trigonometry to colonoscopy".

In the end the conundrum is resolved only by our determination to commence that voyage that always begins with one step. Lau Tzu (604 BC – 531 BC): " The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s fee". The Chinese proverb incidentally emphasizes not the first step, rather that action arises naturally from stillness as in, "Even the longest journey must begin where you stand". This implies we control in part the direction of our expedition even though we cannot govern its velocity. Wither time goes is where we go. Possibly with foresight we can telescope time through the smallest aperture that is the present.