The Side Effects of Timekeeping

Is it possible that one of the greatest inventions of mankind can also simultaneously act as a great curse for them? In case of timekeeping, I think it is.

Long ago, humans wanted a notion through which they could keep a sequence of events for comparison purpose. Motion of the sun, phases of the moon and orientation of the stars were the earliest timekeeping devices due to their periodicity.

Slowly, it developed into two distinct forms:

  1. A clock as a physical mechanism for counting the passage of time for periods shorter than a day.
  2. A calendar as a mathematical tool for counting intervals of time for periods longer than a day.

Gradually, timekeeping became more and more accurate through devices like sundials, water clocks, hourglass, quartz and atomic clocks to name a few.

This setup tremendously helped shaping societies towards their development to reach the point where we are now. The usefulness is beyond any doubt.

However, the problem appears from the reason that nature itself does not keep such a precise track of time. I see my children merrily playing around without any attachment to a clock or calendar. The kangaroos near my home also seem to have no sense of time. Ask them about time and age and their response will be either day or night. Of course, they don’t achieve set goals and targets as well.

The reason living beings are unsuitable for accurate time tracking could be that our complex body, feelings, emotions and thoughts are not tied to a strict mechanical schedule which is against the essence of timekeeping. The two are incompatible.

With our great advances in most fields, consider the following questions to get an idea of nature’s incompatibility in this regard: How many species in history have controlled the earth in a manner we have today? How many big species have ever grown to a population of 7+ billion?

I believe that we could lead happier and healthier lives if we had not followed a calendar so attentively. The cost would have been less progress though. People turning years wouldn’t have counted as much since they didn’t even know about it as long as they were not physically deteriorating. Ignorance would have been a blessing.

Timeless days grow into ageless years. Birthdays can put a growing weight of numbers on someone’s otherwise smooth sailing life. Watches become stopwatches without us even knowing it.

I remember a statement in which author described his physical age as 90 years, mental age as 40 years, and emotional age as 18 years. Age after all might be something that should be felt inside. Keeping count of so many numbers might be unnecessary. Due to this reason, along with many others, many monks and warriors of the past have been able to reverse their ages by 20 or 30 years.

To see what becomes possible if one starts thinking outside the usual notion of time and age, consider the case of Sister Madonna Buder,

One of the people he met with was Catholic nun, Sister Madonna Buder. Now 85, she is a member of the Triathlon Hall of Fame and has completed 45 Ironman races and more than 350 triathlons. She was not remotely an athlete for the first half of her life, and only began her athletic career at 40 after a priest recommended running as a spiritual exercise.

And that’s what Robbins found most remarkable. In her book “The Grace to Race,” Buder explains that she never considered her age to be an impediment to her athletic progress, and that she has been driven by the spiritually uplifting nature of pushing herself physically.

I have experimented with seeing no clocks on weekends and dividing my day into morning, afternoon, evening and night only. The result is a vastly increased sense of relaxation.

I have also noticed that when I work without a clock in sight, my focus shifts towards the amount of work done rather than the number of hours spent. It is a very natural productivity hack.

One thing is for certain: If clocks were hanging with trees in a natural beautiful landscape, man wouldn’t have found as much serenity and oneness with nature as we feel today.

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