Are You a Slave to Time?

Female hand with alarm clock visible through hole in torn color paper

When people are wholly engaged in what they are doing, time is irrelevant. When they are not, clock-time becomes significantly more important.  A boxer is much more concerned about the opponent’s next move than about what time it is. It requires an indifference to time to enjoy a great meal – or physical intimacy.

We adapt to clock time. But clock time and the subjective experience of time are not mutually obligatory. The clock doesn’t care whether you observe it or not.

We belong to our technologies (particularly timepieces) far more than they belong to us. Try ignoring them for any prolonged period of time when other people are involved.

Doing life intentionally requires that subjective time must be the ruler. When clock-time dominates your life, the quality of your life is diminished. If we are to live in a world that is dominated by the rationality of clock-time, we may feel we have no choice if we are to participate in that world. But it may be useful to consider the fact that we have to adapt to it. It does not adapt to us.

The struggle between the subjective and the social – between the internal and the external – is as old as human existence. How you work it out may well determine whether or not it is you doing life – or life doing you.

One thing seems inevitable: If you are going to do life as you would have it, you must be the master of time, not its slave. 

-Lee Thayer, Thought-Leader, Excerpt from Doing Life: A Pragmatist Manifesto