“Time is relative; its only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing.”
– Albert Einstein
Photo by Jamie Nix
Occasionally, I catch myself allowing time to slip away. I let it slide through my fingers without much effort to slow it down; without much effort to cease each moment and make it count by occupying it. This occasion happens much more frequently than can be considered as seldom.
While in this reflection, I can’t help but recognize how each passing moment, whether filled or empty of any action, lasts differently to the next. Two hours can feel like two days, then suddenly speed by in less than a minute. We say that time is relative, which I truly believe it is; however, how then can we understand what time is worth to another—to another with whom we spend our time?
I think to myself, in question, “What if I enjoy my time, but am wasting another’s?”
There is no doubt that I have felt reluctant about my use of time, whether it was spent with someone or whether I allowed it to pass by with an activity I am not in the least fond of.
We discuss time, in terms such as days or weeks, in an attempt to synchronize our many selves with one another. And we use it to measure our doings throughout life; appearing to be in control, although in fact, we are not. We have permitted “time”—how we’ve chosen to calculate it—to dictate the happenings that occur, their order, and even their importance in our lives.
I recently finished the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” which touched on death in the final chapter. I will try not to give any spoilers, but Manson discussed many pressing points, one in particular being our fear of dying; which often prevents us from living because it is the only thing that will, with compete assurance, happen. We all die, but “when” is what we find troubling; as is the “how.” I do agree with Manson that, in order to be happy in life, we should accept that we will die and live life without worrying. I will go further and say to live without being concerned about whether or not nearly all our sand has fallen through our life’s hourglass.
Time is a great tool of measurement; although I believe that we do not use it specifically in this way. Instead of simply measuring our length of stay or participation, we go a trillion steps further and measure our productivity; which then determines our worth, which then dictates our purpose, and on to our meaning. Schedules can be liberating, but for the sake of opposition, they can also be limiting and misrepresentative of what is important to us in our life and what we consider to be truly meaningful. Moreover, although time is one of the closest methods we can use to relate to one another, it also passes at a speed dissimilar to any other person’s concept of space and time. That is why time is truly relative. It is weighted differently and felt differently by all. I believe that the closest we can get to synchronization is through time spent together, but even then time never lasts the same for either parties.
While speaking to a class of students about living with MS, I was asked what my biggest “take-away” was. Being the person that I am, I wanted to provide an answer with importance and significance. I wanted what I said to be powerful and unforgettable. And to be honest, I am uncertain if what I said was actually taken this way; but, for myself, it has stuck and is an answer that I continue to think about and remind myself when days—even minutes—become arduous. What I answered, after comically stating that I wanted my answer to be a “good” one, was that we are all different and take our own time to carry activities out. I said that we are unlike anyone else and cannot complete any goal or occupation the same way, nor in the same length of “time,” than any other person. That this perpetual need to compare ourselves to others is completely unnecessary and is actually what hinders us the most from finding success in our daily doings; especially in our biggest struggles. As an identical twin, I can whole-heartedly confirm this because, as similar as I may be to my sister, we have struggled and fought to be “the same” on numerous occasions and have not been successful thus far. My MS diagnosis was a major indicator of this fact.
Time is relative. Its worth does depend on what you do with it. But, because it is relative, its worth is personally determined and is unlike any other moment in any other person’s life; nor is it like any other moment you have experienced before or will experience again.
Is time really wasted if you cannot measure it or see when the last grain of sand will drop? Waste it or use it. In the end, it is all relative.