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6 Ways to Rethink Time to Start Moving Different

What time is it?

I bet your first instinct is to look at your watch, your phone, or a clock (if you still have one of those hanging around).

These are all synchronized (agreed-upon) times. But what are we actually measuring?

What is time itself?

Who’s time?

A Nigerian and a German were supposed to meet at 1PM.

I’ll let you finish the punchline of that joke…..

One person showed up at 1PM, the other casually walked in and said, “1, 1:30, 2PM….I mean, it’s all afternoon, why so tight.”

In a world dictated by punctuality, synchronized time, and efficient resource management, we are made to accept that time is this fixed entity.

You hear it all the time: “We all have the same 24 hours in a day.”

Wake up
Wake up again.

What you do with your limited waking time is where you see results.

True! But is time really this fixed binding entity that we all experience the same?

If we don’t really know what time is, are you experiencing life to its highest level or just experiencing life based on a limited understanding of this collective agreement?

Just hear me out.

I know this might not be what you want to think about. There’s already so much to put on your mind already.

New information. New Technology. AI and machines are taking over.

Why should you be concerned with questioning something that already brings certainty?

It’s these rigid rules around time that block us from asking the important questions like “what are we doing here?”

“Why can time only flow in one direction?”
“Are we all experiencing time the same way?”

OR! Shhhh!!!

“Maybe everyone is keeping a secret from one another about their unique experience with time.”

Do you and main peeps discuss time?

Perhaps it is just an agreed upon universal constant that moves tick tock for all of us to keep rocking to.

One of the problems is that we don’t even have sufficient language to communicate and understand time.

It remains a mystery but we’ve all but agreed to follow it in a particular order. Why?

Slow down! I already hear it from a distance.

“Oh please, the same time passes for us all”
“My apple watch does not lie to me. Neither does my samsung phone – and look, they both tell the same time. Don’t confuse the matter”

All I’m saying is…

Most of us have accepted this fixed time.

That time is the most important common denominator that everything is measured against.

It’s the baseline of all comparisons.

“Is this person doing better than me?”
“How long have they been working there?”
“How many hours have they put in?”

Comparison is the liquor of all social ills. But yet, you compare on something that you don’t fully understand. 

That person you’re comparing yourself with can be having a completely unique experience with time that’s different from yours.

Also we have over-indexed on time management to boost productivity, but can you really manage something that you don’t even grasp?

Time is not just fixed seconds, minutes, and days passing for each person. 

It’s a sequence of events that varies based on our understanding of time and how our brains internalize it.

Everyone’s relationship with time is unique and it’s what we do with this sequence of events that brings meaning to life through transformation.

Adjust your relationship with time, move with the flow of the universe, and do what you are supposed to do – transform.

Let’s Switch Up the Time

I’m not trying to get all Einstein on you today in this letter. I’m not telling you to throw away the certainty of what time is – as you know it. 

All I’m asking is that you remain open to rethink time. 

That’s all.

With a better grasp of time, as little as it is, you can experience and manage it better.

These are also the initial sparks of questions we might have to ask, moving forward, as automation frees up working hours for people.

We’re gonna have to be doing something!

I’ve been doing some re-re-reading on this entity called “time” and here are a few new ways to start rethinking time:

1. Time is not unified (more like a network of times)

Time I expand flow through the universe
Plans I impose to make it all unified
At the bottom is the feet, marching to the beat
Different from the head, where two clocks never met

Time is not a unified entity. Time measured at sea level moves slower than time at the mountain level.

Let me say that in a different way.

Someone away from the ground will age faster and go through more cycles of time than someone closer to the ground. 

Time is not just a universal order of events. It is linked to space and the interaction between objects. 

Height affects time.

So it’s more like every thing has its own “time” and two things have two times in relation to one another

We are living in a “network of time.”

It reminds me of 2012, when I was in a potassium mine in icy Saskatoon, Canada. 

We would all wait to take the elevator (literally a metal box) one mile under. A one-minute silent journey into the core of the earth.

I guess I must have aged slower while I spent 12-hr days down there, just to head back up at the end of the day to age at slower ground speed.

Quite interesting huhn?

Just some food for thought. 

Your time has lost its unity. 

Every pocket of space has and is experiencing its own unique time.

2. Present is an illusion (networks of now)

“The sun is late, again!” said the frustrated dame
“Here you go again. Here to place the blame.”
That was his response, he never tested fate.
She responded. “Just saying. Its always 8 minutes late”

Time changes at different speeds. It moves slower at higher speeds. 

A clock on a moving plane will be behind a clock on the ground that’s not moving at all.

I guess all those frequent flier miles can keep you young.

So if time moves differently for objects moving at different speeds, what is “the present” then? 

When you see something from a distance, it takes time to observe it, so what you are observing now is something that happened in the person or thing’s past.

Unless we are in proximity with one another, there are multiple presents. You can only call what is happening in your proximity, the present.

Asking for a universal now is like asking which basketball team won the football championship.

When I was growing up, I had an uncle that was also a cousin.

Yeah. Read that again.

He was a lot older than my siblings and I. We called him ‘uncle’, but in reality he was my Dad’s nephew.

He and my dad were closer in age than my siblings were with him.

For my uncle-cousin or cousin-uncle, I wondered:

Whose generation is he in? Mine? My Dad’s? Both? Neither?

Just like genealogy where you ask, how do you define “same generation”, the same with time, how do you define the “same now”

With time, each pocket has its local presents. The universe is the sum collection of these local presents.

A universal present is an illusion and this is one of the toughest concepts about time to grasp.

Put this on your mind for a second. 

The present is more like a network of many presents. There is no universal now. Your present is different from another person’s present

3. Time passing is just an illusion of changing order

What you think you saw that was quite particular
Is all intentional filled with molecular
Configurations that quite adjacent
To the unfamiliar caused by our own limitations

Time moves in one direction. Why? 

Why can’t we go from the future to the past?

I’ve always been fascinated by this question when I started seeking a unified answer to everything.

I was in need to find not only an answer, but The Answer.

I was in a desperate search for ‘order.’ In reality, the blurred vision of my temporal self was falling apart.

Some think time is linear, stretching in both directions while you stand in the middle.

How most of us think about time

In reality, it’s more like an arrow that flows forward

But why does it flow forward?

It has something to do with heat.

You see, heat can only go from a hot body to a cold one. Not the other way around. Everything that has to do with time moving forward has to do with the dissipation of heat.

For instance, a rolling ball coming to a stop is dissipating heat with the friction on the ground.

A stopped ball cannot start rolling backwards on its own without heat dissipating (e.g something pushing it like wind or a kick)

The dissipation of heat is where entropy and the 2nd law of thermodynamics comes from.

Entropy is the state of disorder. Its origin word is “transformation”

The arrow of time lies in the equation change in entropy is greater or equal to zero, 

Entropy never decreases.

But what is entropy itself?

Why does it go from order to disorder?

It has to do with our blurred vision of the world.

We ascribe order to a state based on perceived attributes that make the entity seem ‘particular.’ We fail to see that every state is unique in its own way. 

This blurred vision of the world is what makes us see something as ‘ordered.’

For instance, imagine you had a deck of cards. If you arranged 26 red first, then 26 black. You might say the state is ‘particular.’ 

When you start shuffling, the state of disorder starts increasing. A few red mixed in with the black. 

We have gone from order to disorder.

But that’s only because we ascribed this particularity to the initial order. The deck of cards could have been arranged by same suits, letters, numbers, or cards with the creases first.

In reality, each arrangement is unique and particular.

At a molecular level, every state is unique. We just don’t see it that way and that’s why we perceive time flowing forward.

Something to think about. 

Time passing is just an illusion of changing order. This order is caused by our blurred representation of a rigid world.

4. Time is a floating field of dots (It’s all about vibes) 

When I was 25 years old, I spent my time preoccupying my mind with work, making sure my navy blue bmw was shiny, and getting a green card.

Einstein at the same age was comprehending how fixed time was just an illusion. He was already on to the theories of relativity. 

I guessed we both used our times differently.

I used time to write lyrics like this:
I thought t was constant, all that I learned in school
If I stopped learning I’d be the educated fool
Did the apple fall on Newton’s head because it was ripe?
The gravity stretched hertz impressionist is the very vibe

Einstein brought together Aristotle’s relative time and Newton’s absolute time with his theory of relativity.

The concept that space and time are intertwined when the world is seen for the fields it’s made up of. Electromagnetic. Nuclear!

Gravity is one of those fields and spacetime is a gravitational field that we are in. It’s like an elastic material that can be stretched.

Although we see things as discrete, the reality is that it is all connected. We are all part of and in this gravitational field.

We can say the dotted impressionist work of Monet and Manet were on to something about our reality. 

We are in a wave of dots.

And just another food for thought.

Time is a field that we are all in. I guess it’s all about the frequency and vibes then.

5. Time is not a noun (It’s a verb)

You are not just a being but a human becoming!

From ashes to ashes
To dust to dust
I come flip the mode of your squad
Like Busta Bust
From religious ceremonies to what is just
The transformation with us it just can’t stop

The world is made up of a sequence of events, not of things.

If there’s one thing that is permanent in this world it is change.

Even things that we look at are just there as a sequence of events.

You might at first sight think that a stone is just a thing.

But that stone is a sequence of events – dust particles forged together over great pressure, over centuries – that created a uniquely shaped stone – that can be used in a catapult – that can be used as an example in this letter – that can become a piece of art.

These are all processes and events, the stone will eventually disintegrate and turn back to dust.

The world is not a fixed thing. It’s a dynamic series of events.

It is not a being, but more of something that is becoming.
Not of permanence, but of change.
Not something that is, but something that occurs.

This is the best way to think about time

This is how I remember it.

Time is a verb not a noun.
Time is action not an object.
Time is dynamic not static. 

The only constant here is change.

You are not a human being, you are a human becoming!

6. Time is limited by language

“There is a text from the world of antiquity that refers to the spherical shape of the Earth in the following way: ‘For those standing below, things above are below, while things below are above….and this is the case around the entire Earth’

~ The Order of Time

Just like we struggled to describe a spherical earth, our grammar has not caught up to speed to describe time.

We speak of time as past, present, future.

Past is “what was”, Present is “what is”, Future is “what will be”

But is there a universal present? No.

The present is localized and based on proximity of measurement.

Our language is limited in describing this complex nature of time.

Nature is what it is. If we can’t adapt our limited language to describe it, that’s our limitation.

Language has its own limitations when talking about time. Perhaps I am limiting myself by describing it in English prose.

Maybe a poem about time might be better.

Asiko wo lo koja
Put it together like lokoja
Why? You ask!
Abeg na big English
To describe time.
We don’t have the right language.

Time is limited by language. 

Our inability to form the right symbolic expression to talk about time limits our understanding of time itself.

Final thoughts

Time is not fixed. It varies with position and speed.

Its duration varies also and only moves in one direction mainly due to our blurred and limited view of reality.

It is a dotted field we are in.

Time is more of a verb than a noun. We are constantly becoming and not fixed beings.

The world is made up of a sequence of events and not made up of fixed things. It is limited by our language and our mental ability to grasp it.

So when you’re making a comparison, think again. When you are managing your time. Ask what is being managed here.

Readjust your relationship with time to tap into your own fullness of life.

So how long did it take you to read this letter?

I hope you checked when I asked you “what time is it” in the beginning.

Yours truly,

Who is Nifemi?

Hey I’m Nifemi of NapoRepublic

I help busy people fit in a creative practice to bring to bring order to their reality and help them live a more meaningful life through writing and reflection.

Sculpt your story

Know thyself, build a second brain, and unleash your creativity with writing. All in one journaling, note-taking, and dots-connection method that fits into your busy life.