June 2014

As Time Passes – How We Use It


As I left a meeting this evening I heard one person say, “Wow, this day really flew by” and yet another person said, “I didn’t think this day would ever end”. Despite the fact that we all have the same amount of time each day, our perceptions vary.

Physicists can explain time in objective, quantifiable terms. Philosophers speak of it subjectively. For example, Immanuel Kant wrote: “Time is not something objective. It is neither substance nor accident nor relation, but a subjective condition, necessary owing to the nature of the human mind.”

So it seems that the experience itself is defined by each of us as individuals. When I feel empowered and am immersed both intellectually and emotionally — then I am fulfilled and time seldom stalls. When my work connects to a larger vision and everyone is cooperative and amiable, time passes well.

On the other hand, time passes slowly when distractions or negativity take me off-course. If I feel lost or confused, or if I experience disunity — that’s when time drags on.

With or without scientific or philosophical explanations, time doesn’t wait for us. If there is a due date for an assignment or project, it will arrive. This is true at the workplace, and it is true about the world-at-large.

Wherever people are starving, time doesn’t wait. One more day without sufficient food may be the day that their health takes an irreversible turn.

Given the state of our environment and the impact of climate change, time doesn’t wait. Immediate action is needed, and delays are devastating as well as costly.

Wherever there is war, every day brings death, destruction, and the intensification of emotions. For children who have never known peace or trusting relationships, time doesn’t wait.

Shoghi Effendi, in addressing the Baha'ís about their role in bringing unity, justice, peace and community to the world, wrote: “The sands are indeed running out . . . The distractions, temptations, and pitfalls that might interfere with its consummation are many and varied.”

We all know that our lives are finite and that every day has 24 hours. What we put into those hours, what we take from them, is where we exercise our free will. Whatever time “feels” like, we can use it well or not.

Each morning we begin with choices and opportunities. And in the evening we can reflect on our day. A day with service to others, with the sharing of love, with purposeful action to improve something – even these simple acts help to make a difference.

Much like a child’s shouted warning “Ready or not, here it comes”, much of our work has urgency to it. And like the ball thrown with that warning, we can catch it, miss it, or be hit by it. Each day we have time to waste, use or invest in something bigger than ourselves. Surely we will want to live so that every day is worthy of the time we have been given. All 24 hours of it.


© Jaellayna Palmer 2014