Monday, February 12, 2007


The link between time and reality is insoluble. We can divorce ourselves from time only by undoing reality, or from reality only by undoing the sense of time. Categorical time is measured by clocks and calendars; existential time is that which is experienced, lived in, rather than observed.
The concept of time studied in a normal group of children ranging from age three to six years old, found that when they learnt to tell clock time, external factors became increasingly important in establishing time sense. Prior to this age,with many individual variations, to be sure, diurnal rhythm, the concept of the day as a unit of 24 hours, was described in terms of personal experiences.

These first included physiological functions, such as bowel movements, sleeping, and eating, and later said factors as interpersonal and play activities. The seasonal time, with its enormous and often unpredictable variations, was poorly understood in all the children studied.

The emergence of the concept of time in children is the result of the interaction between the child with his private experiences and his own rhytmic needs and an external world with external physical forces ( lights, dark, cold, and so forth) and significant adults, both of which have rhythmic patterns of their own. They postulate that the sense of past, present, and future follows a hunger feeding satisfaction sequence that necessitates an adequate mother- child relationship as well as physical need satisfaction.

Mann, J Time-Limited Psychotherapy ( 1973:4)

The world may be speeding up, or is it really. Is this a sense within ourselves that we are working a 9 to 5 job, hurtling through life and its experiences at a speed that is not actually compatible with our inner life rhytms? Why do we have to be reachable by cellphone at every opportunity, why do we need to respond to deadlines? These are time limits imposed on us by others. Quite rightly the world as it is, the business world, may not function if we do not have a sense of time, chaos would prevail, but it is my opinion that the way we use time and the clock currently is not compatible with the body and mind we have at the moment. This in principle is the cause of stress in many our lives.

A friend told me recently that her father had been discharged from the hospital and sent home to be cared for by his wife, because they decided he had only about 6 weeks to live. The fact is that the man is still alive 6 months later. It is obviously not yet his rhytmic time to stick to the 6 weeks given by the doctors. ( what gives them the right anyway!). In the meantime, the daughter travels every weekend and spans 300 miles in a car to visit home, and this is showing signs of stress as it is not compatible with looking after her own family and holding down a full time job. The mother who is looking after her husband, is suffering stress and a variety of physical symptoms, not only because she is facing the death of a loved one, but because apparently no help can be provided as he is not going to live longer than 6 weeks.

This example to me highlights how we are living in a time managed environment and at the same time, what should be the ending of a life, in its own time, is being scheduled in.

Here on the homestead we also have time, but my experience of it is that it does not rule my mind and body to the above extent. We get up and the children go to school, but for the majority of the day we can make decisions as to how we are going to spend our time. We have rhytms and actions that take place every day, such as dog walking, feeding the chickens etc, and yet within that is some movement for unexpected events. We are more aware of downtime in winter and up time in summer, how our bodies need rest in winter and can spend longer out during the summer time. Plants grow when the light and heat conditions are right and with climate change this too is changing. Just because the packet says, plant in February, may simply not be feasible in the future. With climate change comes an awareness that our perception of time and its seasons, the expected patterns are changing. We may be able to still control our clocks and calendars but they are based on what we perceived to be certain facts and rhytms. These are changing........could this be a coincidence?

If you need to be at a meeting at 9 am, the train you want to take is delayed, you might get stressed out. I have observed people in a bus ( the train was not running) being furious at the railway system for causing a delay.

Slowing down is incredibly difficult to do as many people experience when they go on holiday, and yet, I am convinced that we are not yet adapted to living in an environment that speeds up on a regular basis, we may not quite have evolved for that. Being pushed by time, challenging our physical and mental abilities, speeding up has an impact on our personal experiences and the world that surrounds us.

Not so long ago, man was in touch with nature and the natural rhytms........a clock may be ticking ..............

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