I have been reading, which will be no surprise to you , a book by Carlo Rovelli, a series of essays on differing subjects, the main one being science. After all, he is a theoretical physicist . So I am more knowledgeable about Black Holes and Gravitational Waves. But he is an interesting man with a breadth of subjects that interest him and I have just read his observations from a trip to Africa. It is here that he comments on half of the continent spending a large part of its time just waiting. He boards a bus in a village and enquirers when it will leave to discover the departure is determined by when the driver considers he has sufficient passengers on board. On this occasion Rovelli waits a further 2 hours before departure.
Now this is something foreign to you and me, in fact to most people we know. It is counter to all the values our society holds where time is a commodity to be sold by the hour. There was a time when my worth was given an hourly and daily figure and if you wanted me it was gonna cost you! I now look back and cringe. What have we become? What chance a humane society and kindness if every action can be measured by its worth in £’s, $’s or €’s? And somewhere half a continent sits and lets time pass by with no urgency, no sense of loss or need to fill it with activity. Dare I ask, “Whose got it right?” You’d say we have because we have WiFi, Amazon, microwaves and more. But there’s a question that nags in the back of my mind. How often can we just sit and let time pass realising no apparent profit from the minutes and hours? Indeed, is the importance that we place on time really warranted or have we missed something?
I must put my hands up at this point and say for years I was the worst at letting time pass by without adding something to my account. I am a product of my age raised to extract every possible drop of worth from the day. But now I am learning, or is it unlearning, about time?
Now time is of greater value to me than monetary gain. I’ll give you money long before I’ll commit time to you or your needs because I have now come to realise that I can make more money but I can’t create more time. Now, time is something to be enjoyed and not something to be traded to bolster my bank balance. Maybe time is to be savored, something that age reveals causing those who are attentive to use it wisely and as age takes hold there are a lot of things that assume an insignificance we would not have foreseen. Hindsight is a revealing servant. But again I ask myself, am I giving value to something that I shouldn’t?
Eventually time runs out and this is a pressing concern for many in our society. As I sit and write I don’t think I’m overly concerned about dying. I hope I won’t be found clinging on at the end. There is a little concern over how I might end my days. It would be nice (if that is the appropriate word at this point?) to fall asleep, at peace with the world and then pass on. You see I have come to the conviction that ‘passing’ is just a transition from this world to what lies beyond and I am assured that what lies beyond is infinitely better.
There are things known and there are things unknown and between there are doors.Jim Morrison
Let me ask you a question. If you had to describe yourself in terms of ‘Me’ what would you say? Most, I’m sure, would gesture to their bodies and say something like: “This is Me”, because we tend to consider ourselves to be a body of muscle, bone, sinew etc. controlled by a super computer, the brain. If asked about emotions people generally indicate their heart as they speak which could be considered strange as, put crudely, this is a pump.
When asked I will tell you I am a Soul having a human experience which is sufficient to get me labelled as crazy by a few. What ever! But as such my body is just a process and an experience I will, one day move on from. I will look back and declare “Done that” to those about. I will pass to a reality we call Eternity or Heaven, Nirvana. Then where will time be?
You exist in time, but you belong to eternity.Osho
As I sit here writing and doing a lot of thinking I am beginning to question the importance we place on time. I am understanding the calm acceptance that the bus might not leave for an hour or two. If you can find it within yourself to believe that when your time runs out there is Eternity then things do not possess the urgency that many attach to them. Now that thing I term ‘Me’ is having a human experience which is just a larger version of all the other experiences I have, or maybe it’s all the other experiences rolled into one.
So if half a continent spends most of it’s time waiting is that an issue? Maybe that is their human experience? Maybe waiting is just another type of human experience? Am I being arrogant to think my experience is better, richer, more real than another’s experience? And here’s the kicker. What if you and I are destined to have several varying “Human experiences”? What if, in some other experience, we need to sit and wait for the bus in order that we understand? I know I am on thin ice here as far as you are concerned. I know I am hinting at reincarnation and that is outside of your beliefs but, if nothing else, take time and try to imagine yourself onto that bus. Maybe sit in a corner and do nothing for an hour other than wait. A spectrum of experiences? Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man beggar man, thief? Goodness, there’s a thought. What we don’t experience in this current life we will in the next. Nobody gets away without experiencing everything.
If you are a person who does not believe in the Hereafter, thinking that this measurable span of years is it, I can understand why you might to squeeze every last drop from it and cling valiantly on, finger nails gripping the ledge. But if you believe that this life is just the precursor to what is to come then any need for urgency should fade away and you can sit back and enjoy the ride (or if your experience is taking place in Africa, enjoying waiting for the ride to start!). No one sums this up better than C.S.Lewis.
All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and title page: Now at last their were beginning chapter one of the great story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.The Last Battle.
There is my hope and belief summed up. And how I spend my time now, and if I have to come this way again to spend it differently, to gain the fullness of the human experience, it is but preparation for what is to come. And time? Time is that which frames this experience and any other I may have. Don’t sweat it.
Yours, throwing my watch away,