Just a notice up front: This is just the first of multiple parts of a thought experiment, but it is also a very cerebral and philosophical one; so if you’re not in the mood to do some heavy thinking right now, you may want to come back to this later.
Back in 2014, I underwent a huge shift in perception that deeply altered the way I experience my reality, and this shift relates to common notions about time. Since then I have learned much about the nature of time, how we view it as a society, and what these views can mean for our spiritual well-being.
It might seem odd, counterintuitive, or even confusing, but it turns out that the way we think about time can have a huge impact on a number of things we do often as people, including:
- Dealing with failure
- Making and keeping commitments
- Shaping/reshaping an identity
- Forgiving ourselves and others
- Confidently seizing on opportunities
Admittedly, our beliefs about time are only a part of what affects the way we do the things I listed above, but our approach to time has far-reaching consequences. I’m not just talking about how we use clocks and calendars, either; I’m also talking about how we think of the relationship between the past, present, and future. The way we incorporate these often hidden beliefs about time into our thinking affects many aspects of our psyche, since most of how we see ourselves and regard the world is built at least partly on the perceived workings of time.
Western Society, and many Eastern ones as well, have adopted certain very well-established ideas of what time is and how it works. There are many ways in which our studies of time are very powerful, and the precision and continuity we have brought to the counting of hours and the years have been immensely helpful in building our civilization and conducting business of whatever kind; but would you also believe that certain fundamental ideas about time we tend to live by are deeply flawed and impacting our ability to live more purposefully?
In order to identify the first major flaw in the standard conception of time, consider this:
We have measured time down to a scale billions of times shorter than the blink of an eye or the firing of a neuron, and we have measured it up to the scale of the age of the universe. We are clearly very good at measuring and breaking down time on whatsoever scale we please. We know the number of seconds in a minute, the minutes in an hour, the hours in a day, the days in a year, and the years in a millennium.
For these reasons, you, the reader, already have more than enough understanding about how we measure time to answer a question for me, because it does not require technical expertise or scientific background. The question can pry apart the pieces of your own thinking about time, allowing you to see past them. I invite you to reply with your answers, and I look forward to them.
The question, then, is this:
Can you say, using simple units, how fast time passes?