It’s perhaps the most often asked question of the day, apart from “How are you?” or more modernly “Sup?”… “What time is it?” As if keeping time was entirely necessary. If you think about the great things in life, they are often referred to as timeless: baseball (innings only), best friends, certain musical songs or motion pictures. Shakespeare. Lennon. Timeless. Even great watches have timeless design, like a Rolex or a Swatch.
Einstein, a timeless figure in his own right, determined that time was all relative anyways, so it doesn’t matter if it’s 2am or noon or 8:17pm. The mere time of day or day of the year is all arbitrarily predetermined by the rotation of the earth, and the revolution of the earth around the sun.
Calendars were invented and adopted, and first we attempted to measure this phenomena with Sundials (some of which are amongst the prettiest man-made scenery you will ever lay eyes upon.) Next we created the analog clock, and aside from knowing what time it is, you could get lost staring at some of the most fanciful and artsy clocks ever created. Soon after, the Grandfather Clock was brought about, with its musical bells chiming in at annoying and repetitious intervals of 15 minutes, with extended dings and dongs on the hour. I could never sleep through midnight at my own Papa’s place.
Finally, either by our inability to deduce from Pythagorean angles what time it was, or our lack of motivation to, we created the digital clock. Now, all we need to do is take a short glance at our wrist or wall and PRESTO! We know what time it is. Our instant gratification hunger is satiated… at least until the next minute. Type A personalities won another battle in our war against wasting time. In fact, some of my coworkers have asked me to help read their own analog Seikos, which ultimately leads me to believe that society is declining.
I for one, only have two clocks in my possession by choice. Sure, I have one on my computer and my phone and my coffeemaker and my stove. I have one on my microwave that I simply do not set, I have one in the car I only look at when I am late to work. I had one on my cable box before I found out that cable boxes can chain a man to his couch, killing time with the viciousness of a ravenous wolverine.
The two clocks I have are my gorgeous, silver, analog watch, timelessly designed of course, and a quaint swinging analog clock that hangs on my wall … always reminding me when it’s precisely… fuck, I can’t read those analog things anyways. I can’t even spell analog. Or analogue. I refuse to care what time it is, unless I have some important engagement that is set for a particular time that I must attend: A date, a class, a work shift, an 11pm Sportscenter.
Alas, hours and minutes are mere mileposts on the highway of life, they systematically tell you how long you’ve been traveling, and if you do sixty miles per hour, (which no-one does anymore, unless your a grandfather or Canadian) then they sync perfectly, miles and minutes. However, I can’t remember the last person who said “Man… milepost 197 was one hell of a drive!” Or “the scenery at milepost 88 is breath-taking!” You remember moments, not minutes… experiences not hours. Time is irrelevant.
If living for a lengthy period of time were the Apex of human existence, then we would revere those who’ve graced the ages of 90, 100, 110 with biblical-like admiration. And to a certain extent, we do. However, if gammy is being wheeled around with an oxygen tank while smoking a cigar through her tracheotomy and bitching that her diaper needs to be changed, we would probably just as soon wheel her over the pier blindfolded.
But, alas, what if instead of life being measured by time, what if time were to be measured by life? What separates my one hour spent watching television from another’s one hour working to build a clean water well in Africa? The way we spent the hour, of course.
We like to call certain arbitrary stretches of time, no matter how good or bad, memorable or unmemorable, moments. Life is measured in moments. Life takes you from one moment to the next, dragging you kicking and screaming if it has to. You are whisked away to the next task, challenge, or milepost by all the moments that precede it, no more and no less. Great moments – even horrific ones – last forever in our memories. They are capsules of our existence that are romanticized through the gracious camera lens inside our minds. They supercede the moments that came before or since, whether they happen at midnight or 7am.
And so the apex of human existence is measured not by living the most minutes, but by living the most great moments and by growing through the worst times.
Gorgeous melodies of moments that sync together make up symphonies of our lives; even notoriously ugly melodies still hold some resonance in our collective memories.
Imagine how boring a piece of music would be if the same note were played over and over, by the same instruments, in the same concert hall… for eternity. Would you get up and leave? You would, wouldn’t you? This Great Symphony of Wasted Time. Every now and again I feel like I am writing it. However, that same Symphony could simply be the Symphony of time itself. Watches, metronomes, other timekeepers, they just tick. And it’s redundant. They keep time but express nothing.
This is why we must go out and explore, to create a sonic palette that’s both memorable and beautiful, based upon exciting new moments that we create for ourselves. By doing this we become relevant, kinetic and dynamic … and legends of the highest order. Only the best and catchiest melodies need apply, no seating available for those who wish to hear the monotonous tick-tick of time and all who waste it.
So the next time someone asks you what time it is, tell them, but don’t even reply with the snide “time to get a watch.” (You’re a prick if you do.) But, look somewhere other than your watch and know that it’s almost time for the next big moment. And rejoice! For you are that much closer to experiencing, or even creating, something altogether timeless.