Guest Blogger, Nathan Pralle

Introducing Nathan Pralle from PhilosYphia

Let’s welcome Nathan Pralle. When you are finished reading Nathan’s insight on Time; click on over to his site and read more of his creative posts. In addition, it would be a great gesture if you left comments below for Nathan to respond to. Remember his guest post is a sacrifice because it means he neglected his own blog to post here. Of course it is a great honor for me to be able to have a guest blogger. As a favor to me show Nathan the courtesy you might want shown to you if you were a guest writer on someone elses blog. Leave plenty of comments and visit his site. It’s very interesting. Thanks.
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I worry about Time.

Or rather, I worry about how our perceptions of Time are changing. Specifically, I’m concerned with the idea of whatever RIGHT NOW happens to be.

If you think back, it wasn’t a few years ago we were all very much used to the idea of time being somewhat…inspecific.   Not necessarily inaccurate, but there was a fudge-factor to what time it was supposed to be right at the moment.

This all had to do with the timepieces we employed ourselves with – from the golden fob on a chain in your father’s suit pocket to the Mickey Mouse Club red-banded watch on your elementary-school wrist, we had pretty decent ways of telling what time it was…somewhat.

Even the best of chronometers lost or gained some time based on any number of environmental factors – temperature, impacts, battery strength, the accuracy of the movement, cat puke, etc. Your particular time could be anywhere from 10 minutes before to 10 minutes after anothers time and the popular excuse was, “well, this watch runs slow, ya know.”

Today we have systems that synchronize and it’s getting harder to find ones that don’t. Computer systems all draw their time from a local server which contacts one of the many “time servers” on the Internet to get the correct setting, the servers themselves being set by the atomic clocks that only lose one second every 30 million years. Cell phones are slowly replacing watches as the source of personal time knowledge – I myself don’t wear a watch anymore in deference to my iPhone’s display. These, of course, are also getting their time from the company’s servers which in turn ask for the official time from the atomics.

In other words, everything’s really, really accurate — all the time, every time, without fail due to batteries, impact, or running it through the wash. How handy are we?

And yet, this has caused us some shifts in how we approach time. Getting together with friends now happens on a specific time, like always, but you both know when someone’s late and there’s no real question about it – everyone HAS the same time on their phones, so there’s no more, “Oh, sorry, this old thing must be acting up again.”  (shakes wrist in the air in frustration)

Meetings and appointments take on a whole new dynamic because your computer knows the right time, just as everyone else, and if you’re a minute or two behind you can be assured someone will be calling to see if you fell asleep. There’s no more getting to the meeting early and sitting around tossing the crap because a few of you had fast watches.

In some essence, we’ve lost a chunk of our interaction time based on the inaccuracy of time. It seems we do a lot more, “making time,” than we used to, which equates to having to schedule in a chunk of a moment to handle something we don’t normally have written down – reading a book to our child, visiting a relative, hanging out with a friend, talking to a colleague.   Many of these things used to just, “happen,” and then we lost the inefficiencies of the “times between” and gained…what, exactly?

I try to not let Time rule my life any more than is a necessary evil, but it’s very difficult.   I find my head pulling me in a logical direction when, “playing trains,” with my little boy goes a bit too long and the night creeps on. “You’re wasting time!” a small part says, noting that it’s now 10pm and we’re still playing.  Thankfully there’s an even bigger part of me going, “No, this is important. Screw the time.”

Time – it’s all we have and a limited amount at that.   The seconds ticking by trickle through our minds and our bodies and propel us onwards into the future – it’s all a matter of how much emphasis we ourselves put on it that makes it the fleeting thing that it is – or one of the most important.  If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to find the difference.

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  1. #1 by Juan Cortes on March 17, 2010 - 3:09 AM

    Great post. Great thoughts.

  2. #2 by Julia G on March 10, 2010 - 7:38 PM

    I panic when I don’t know what time it is, but that doesn’t stop me from being late or just-on-time. As I am at the mercy of the speed of my walk or the public transit system, I’m often unable to tell people when exactly I will be somewhere… so usually, if I am the first person to a meeting point, I worry that I’m in the wrong place!

  3. #3 by yuuki-chan on March 8, 2010 - 1:37 PM

    Loved this post. :)
    I suppose we really are a generation governed by the nanoseconds but there’s no harm in slowing down and savoring the moments. Don’t you agree?

    Thanks for bringing a guest here Tom!

  4. #4 by Chris on March 7, 2010 - 9:21 PM

    I think its the working environment of today that forces us to be much more time-aware. There are set times that certain things have to happen and then you have to ‘make time’ to try and take care of other tasks.

    I can’t escape this at work, but at home I try to have my own schedule. Hanging out with good friends, and spending time with family those are the important things much like you’ve said. And when that voice in the back of my head pops up saying I’m wasting time I squash it.

    Really enjoyed your post Nathan. And Tom, thanks for bringing in another great guest!

  5. #5 by Tom Baker on March 7, 2010 - 9:10 AM

    This post left me thinking about the time I spend with April and how spending time together is the most important thing in our married lives. We do spend quite a bit of the day together. She’s been able to finagle working at home and she is very good at what she does. Most things that she has to do she gets done in no time and that gives us more time to love, cook, walk, talk, shower, play games, and all the other things most married couples wish they had time for.

    It also left me thinking about Daylight Savings Time. It really does come too early now. Cherish those important moments. One day you will be able to look back and not regret so much…

  6. #6 by Nathan Pralle on March 6, 2010 - 5:32 PM

    Julie: You hit upon a good point — traffic, weather, etc. still can provide us with useful excuses, indeed — I’ve had weather slow me down this winter especially! (We don’t really get traffic problems, of course, unless there’s a cow jacknifed on the highway or something.)

    Stacey: Yeah — sometimes it really frustrates me that we have to pencil things in to make them happen; it’d be nice if we had a looser attitude about it and things just “happened” more naturally. But you’re right…it takes a lot of training to figure out when to let go.

    Rogue|Hero: I agree with you in terms of keeping things moving, although in the business world, I still see a lot of time being wasted on daily activities, even if they are started on time, they go late, something happens, and then you get the combined stigma of being a latecomer if you’re one minute behind or something. Plus, it also seems to me like due to such hyper-accurate scheduling, we try to stuff MORE into the day than we would before because we’re so much more “efficient”. The problem with that is that I’m still not getting home any earlier or doing any less overtime to keep up with my work, I’m just very accurately staying late. :)

  7. #7 by Rogue|Hero on March 6, 2010 - 2:40 PM

    Hi Nathan!

    I favor synchronicity in time. This keeps appointments, work shifts, and other everyday schedules in check; thus ensuring that these undertakings get accomplished “on time.” After all the things that I go through, at the end of the day, I have enough time (that would otherwise be wasted through delays in schedules) for the important matters of life–family and personal recreation.

    Yeah, these times have become very specific. It has put a lot of strain on our lives by stressing the importance of being on time always–when in fact, it’s impossible to keep it up. We just have to keep in mind that modern everyday stresses should not affect our everyday normal routine.

    Keep it up, Nathan!
    Keep it up, Tom!

    Cheers!
    Rogue|Hero

  8. #8 by Stacey Thomas on March 6, 2010 - 9:58 AM

    “Screw the time. This is important.” Absolutely. It’s our perception of the value of time that causes us to have to “pencil in” the small interactions that mean so much, and ultimately make the tapestry of our lives richer. These are those moments that we should find joy, comfort and solace in, and enjoy them while they last…halting the stopwatch. Halting the stopwatch is a habit, however, something we need to train ourselves to do. The older I get, the more I find myself successful at halting the stop watch…and I also see this in my parents, twenty years older than myself, even more so.

    Great post Nathan, thanks for the food for thought.

    Stacey

  9. #9 by Julie on March 6, 2010 - 9:48 AM

    Okay, as a time obsessive person, I don’t know how I feel about this post. I still wear a watch in the shower and to bed at night. Personally, I ‘like’ the fact that people are more on time now, but at least we in KC can still blame being early or late on the traffic. :) I think you actually hit on the most important issue at the end, we have to loosen up and decide that spending time with people and loved ones is not bound by time.

  1. I Have a Morning Erection! — PhilosYphia

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