I was struck by an article by Dr. Dr Sunil Bhatia in that way when a subject just doesn’t leave you alone – it kept popping up in my thoughts. Dr. Bhatia created and runs the Design For All Institute of India and publishes a monthly newsletter. He recently wrote about the invention of the measurement of time and its impact on human life; click here for the pdf article.
Long ago there were no means to measure time beyond the sun, moon and seasons. One can imagine that to be present in the moment might have been easier. Today, being present seems impossible; our gadgets ply us with constant interruptions. We are always managing what was, and planning what will be. Hardly ever are we simply present. We jump so much between past, present and future that it actually appears as if there really is such a thing as time – as if there is anything other than this very moment.
How did this shift occur? How did we move from a timeless human existence to one measured by time? We tracked the planetary motions, discovered the pendulum, built big clocks and finally made tiny ones that are portable. Time became noticeable and measurable for everyone. Once measurable, there would soon be either too much or too little. This shift in awareness made time seem as real as the earth we stand on.
With this measurement of time came awareness in our notions about yesterday and tomorrow, last month and next month. Notions about too long or too short appeared because we have a precise measurement device – gone was the pure sensation of experience: “That rollercoaster ride was too short,” rather than, “it was so exhilarating.” What disappears in a world ruled by time is our freedom to be present. Instead, our actions must adapt into a framework of time. If we do so well, we are considered efficient, a much valued attribute in today’s world. But in doing so, we traded away a simple key to happiness. No longer do we do that which is simply better for us. No longer do we take the time we need to do something right. We squash ourselves into time, we budget time and we are slaves to time.
Do you disagree? On your next activity, take the time you need to be present as you work and to work in a means that produces happiness for yourself and those who will experience the results of your efforts. Time says get it done rather than do it right. As a paradigm, the era of time consciousness has revealed its consequences. Much that is awry in our world is so as a result of the clock. As we move into an era of universal design, it will bear similar fruits if we are unwilling to get it right rather than on time. It is time to put aside the clocks and to focus who we are when we do what we do and the impact our caring will have. Such a consciousness will result in greater compassion and thoughtfulness. The rushing about will gone and in its place will be richer and more rewarding lives. This is a result of placing our values on experience, not how long it took.