In this note, we are interested in experienced (empirical) time; not at all in the esoteric, Einsteinian concept, viz., time as a theoretical separate dimension. We are speaking of the time referred to in such expressions as, “It’s about time,” “we are short of time,” “time flies” (tempos fugit), “just passing time,” and “time out”; the time of our human experience.
Observing grains of sand gradually and steadily, descend from the upper hemisphere of an hourglass to the lower, we note that time is a faithful observant of the planet’s natural law of gravity. When the bottom half is full, denoting the passage of one hour, the dynamic is all but forgotten, except for its resultant evidence appearing in the lower sphere. What does that observed experience signify? What has actually changed, simultaneously, with the slow and steady voyage of the silica dioxide?
Many notable authors have written of time as a dream, or as a mental construct, signifying its unseen passage. In common with our observation of the lower half of the hourglass, we wonder at time’s essential function, in terms of the new situational experience, now that the hour has been spent. Does a successor hour begin immediately upon the fall of the final grain of sand? Did it begin just prior to the arrival of that final particle? The nature of time seems indeed seems to be as mysterious and intangible a concept as it is, ultimately, of harshly determinative significance.
As we age, the expression, “The days are long, but the years are short,” takes on ever–increasing personal significance. We have a clear awareness of the present, as compared with a dim (perhaps, erroneous) recollection of the past; consequently, the illusion of the latter as “short.” One surely cannot measure time by man’s longevity which varies from person to person. The popular expression, “just killing time” is simply thoughtless; we do not kill time, time kills us. Like measured sand in an hourglass, it is finite and final. The great many and variety of changes that occur in our lifetime, some gradual, some that seem exponential, act as an effective diversion from monitoring our personal allotment of sand as it performs its law-abiding compliance with the planet’s jurisdictional rule governing gravity.
The word, “recollection” is both interesting and illustrative. It refers to thinking again about a past event or experience. Its etymology describes a Medieval Latin word, “recollectio,” meaning collect again. It clearly appears to be the case that much of our past is not collectible again by contemporary consciousness.
Whether or not, time is a separate dimension, as theorized by many physicists, we are all afloat in it for a relatively limited time, similar to the compliant sand in the hourglass. We are duty- bound to give essential meaning to our valuable life experience during our gradual journey toward finite human maturity. We do so by not concentrating on time’s passage, but, rather, on the effective development of our personal growth, self- enhancement and pursuit of wisdom. True success, within the limited space of one’s lifetime, is not measured by the extent of one’s recollection of his life experiences, but instead, by the extent of temporal effort, devoted by him to exploiting, to his fullest capability, the singular potential for understanding and awareness, which was gifted to homo sapiens by evolution. –p.