Tick, Tock…

“If I could put time in a bottle…”        “Time to say goodbye…”        

“It’s the time of the season…”

“Let’s do the Time Warp again!”         “I’ve had the time of my life…”          

“Time after time…”

“It’s a five o’clock when the whistle blows, no one owns a piece of my time!”

“Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?”

 

As you can probably see from the array of songs I’ve referenced, I listen to a lot of genres. But while I could talk endlessly about my favorite beats, I want to instead direct my clever readers’ attention towards the one word that is present in all of these lyric clips: TIME.

Time is an interesting concept when you consider where it came from and why it is such a huge element in our lives. Think about the process: centuries ago the moon was used to measure time with what was called a Lunar Calendar. As humanity progressed, we witnessed the invention of sundials, water clocks, hour glasses, and eventually the two-handed clock for the purpose of harnessing passing time. All of these inventions were created so that man could not only monitor the world, but in the process he also found that he could measure his day, his year, and his life. Time eventually became so very precious since humans first became aware of the effort that it took to make a life.

In today’s society, we place so much value upon this concept that people are often prone to losing sight of what’s important in their life beyond the ticking seconds that they can lose. But once we learn of this concept that measures our life, we never forget it. I imagine time as a hovering monster on our shoulder, breathing its foul breath in our face that reminds us of its presence and constantly whispers about lost time that we learn to regret.

“My biological clock is ticking!”

“The deadline is tomorrow.”

“For the last time…”

 “How long until you graduate?”

 “You have two weeks to complete this project for a promotion.”

Anyone would think that humans should be pleased to know that time is concisely arranged – like uniform books upon a shelf. But in all reality, there is little pleasure to be had in the knowledge of knowing that your days are numbered, your breaths are counted, and your natural life is measured. However, despite this melancholy truth regarding the span of your existence – there is happiness and peace to be found if you take the time (pun intended). But seriously, while humans are scientific, critical, philosophical, and intellectual beings that find the concept of time to be fulfilling – we can find renewal and comfort in the concept of living in the moment.

Wait… another time metaphor? I know, I know – don’t close the tab yet.

You see, while man has measured his life with the theory of time, there is also a creative concept that allows him to pause time, manipulate it, bend it to his will, and even ignore it. What is this exciting, freeing concept you might ask?

The moment.

A moment can never be precisely measured and that is why we turn to this concept when we are battered and exhausted because of time. We take a moment to breathe. We use a moment to collect our emotions. We need a moment for ourselves. And it only takes a moment to fall in love… (sorry, shameless musical plug there…) But this is the truth. Our escape from time is to simply ignore it. Now, please don’t take this as encouragement to run around irresponsibly and neglect the notion of day/night until you are arrested for disturbing the peace at 3 in the morning. Sorry, but that’s not my point. While I want to emphasize that time should be respected – we must be careful not to take that respect out of context to the point where we worship it. In the midst of our busy, time-consumed lives – it is important that we take plenty of these moments to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Take a moment now to look around – what do you see? A house that you live in and have earned from hard work? Maybe a room that are you are graciously allowed to occupy? Do you see the office that you were hired to work in? Or do you see other human beings – who populate your life and reveal to you the importance of contact?

Sometimes these moments won’t be so random. Often times, there can be specific instances where we need them: a moment from stress, a moment from sorrow, a moment from criticism, or a moment from care. I would like to share one of my favorite literary moments, my clever readers. This particular moment was penned by Walt Whitman – father of American poetry. And in this moment, the narrator discusses an instance where he chose to focus upon the sheer, simple beauty of nature instead of trying to contain it within concepts and ideas. As a literary and academic enthusiast, this speaks to me because I often have to remember to take a moment and enjoy the simplicity from which our complicated minds originated from.

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

We need these moments for our lives but we also know that they aren’t free. That’s why the phrase is taking a moment, like a hungry thief in the night or a convict taking his freedom. The process of taking a moment is never planned or even acknowledged by our time-consumed society because this concept will appear selfish, uninformed, or even abstract to the general public. But despite the fact that this practice might seclude you in your mind for just a moment – it will gradually open your eyes to the preciousness of life that surrounds you. Only once you understand who you are and where you are, will you then be able to wholeheartedly connect to those around you.

So, look away from the clock or those glaring digits that run away from you, and just take a moment today.

I’ll see you again in the next chapter.

 

Cheers,

-CB

 

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Ask Me Anything

Just a couple of days ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop when I overheard a customer ask the cashier “What is cold brew?”

I recoiled in shock and lost all focus on my book.

All I could think was “How could you NOT know what cold brew is? It’s everywhere!” I was stuck in what I describe as the “Observer’s Pit” (in where a person wallows in disgust/surprise/sadness or even horror at something they overheard.) But I looked down and realized how shallow the pit was that I occupied. I put my hands on the edge and pulled myself up to look around. How could I be such a hypocrite? Even I was once enlightened as to what that strong, effective beverage was. I had asked that very same question, murmuring it into my sister’s ear. My disdain disappeared as I felt admiration surge through my chest at the customer’s brave curiosity, remembering how it felt to have a burning question soothed by a kind or patient answer. This instance also made me wonder: when did it become such an unusual occurrence to boldly ask questions outside of the classroom?

With such technology as iPhones, Siri and Google this modern world is becoming accustomed to the convenience of knowing everything. If you don’t know, just Google it. We have the entirety of man’s knowledge at our fingertips, ready at any time.  But I realize now that these empowering technological advancements are also degrading to society in manners that we can’t always notice right away. For one, my patience is smaller than it used to be. I want my question answered NOW and Google complies within 0.45 seconds.  Even as I write this post, I am utilizing that helpful search bar to expand my vocabulary. Second, my social skills are weakened by the reduced levels of daily interaction . I’d like to think that talking to someone is as easy as riding a bike, something I’ll always remember – but that’s not true. Social interaction is something that needs to practiced often –  just like learning a new language. If you don’t practice what you know, you can easily forget it. Mankind’s common disdain for ignorance has proved to be useful in the advancements of technology, but has caused society to take two steps back in communication abilities.

But society hasn’t been in these depths of conversational despair for very long. Consider for instance, when we were children – we didn’t have Google for our every question. What did we have?

Our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors, and teachers.

Our curiosity was delivered upon the many guides in our life who patiently answered our every question to the best of their ability. Humans instinctively ask questions when there is a lack of information. Think back to when you were young and came upon something new and intriguing. Most likely, you turned to the nearest adult for answers. They in turn would respond with their best answer or a useful recommendation that would help. Granted, there were quite a few questions that were answered with “we’ll revisit that topic when you’re older” or “just because”. But as a result of our curiosity, we bonded and grew to respect our knowledgeable elders. We learned to ask questions of those we trusted. Once we entered the beautiful world of education, we learned HOW to ask questions of almost anybody. And then, alas! The bittersweet moment we were introduced to the all-knowing internet. How fast! How intriguing! How convenient! How…..isolating.

It is a neglected fact that technology and the internet are not only draining our attention spans and patience levels, but our social interaction skills too. While the internet has gifted mankind with access to more information than we could process, the side effects are slowly and devastatingly harmful.

So here is my challenge to you, dear reader. When you have a question that is burning the inside of your skull – you need a definition, a recipe, or directions – ask someone nearby instead of typing it into Google’s hungry search bar right away. Also, use an open and inviting mentality towards others so that in the case where YOU are asked a question, you are prepared to give your best response possible. Our curiosity should lead us to social interactions such as conversations and new experiences – not encouraging isolation, everlasting browsing and disdain at other’s ignorance.

If you are at a loss for an answer and end up requiring the mighty search engine’s help, there is no shame. But if possible (in this busy life of ours) take the time to include someone else in the pursuit of knowledge. Often you will discover that by posing your question to someone (a friend or even a stranger) that you will not only gain experience in  social interaction, but you just might be given something unexpected: advice, kindness, or maybe a simple, but powerful smile.

Imagine how united our communities would be if we should all revert to natural human tendencies by relying on each other more often. It is not weakness to rely on others in the pursuit of knowledge, rather it shows that we understand the importance of social interaction in our society as a whole.

Think about how YOU can improve your social interaction level.

I’ll see you again in the next chapter.

-CB

“However high we climb in the pursuit of knowledge we shall still see heights above us, and the more we extend our view, the more conscious we shall be of the immensity which lies beyond.” –William George Armstrong