Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Time is Relative

They say that time is relative. That is true, depending on the value you put into it. Five minutes can make the world of difference to someone who's just missed the plane. Being stuck in a traffic can seem forever if you're late for a meeting with an important client. While a week is a mere wink of the eye when you're enjoying a holiday of a lifetime.

As a matter of fact time (that is to say, reality) according to Einstein's theory, is relative, in that it requires a subject that enables the probable to become the particular, through conscious attention. Light is both a wave and a particle, depending on the circumstance. A universe of countless rubber balls has no meaning unless there is an observer that focuses on a one particular ball. That ball becomes real.

Moreover, according to Einstein, time is just another dimension; a fourth one after the three dimensions of breadth, height and length. It doesn't even move in a straight line. It bends: which means if you curve it enough you can actually even go back in time or turn it inside out. You can even enter a parallel universe as you shift from one parallel reality to another.

Actually this is not as convoluted as it sounds. We can all have different experiences of time in this same three dimensional world of hours that have nothing to do with the mathematical divisions of time of sixty minutes making one hour, twenty four hours making a day, seven days making a week etc.

As we have shown, the meaning of time depends on it's value to the individual in question. Time is suddenly a lot more precious when the doctor tells you you only have six months to live. While it may not mean very much to the normal healthy person, even though they might get knocked down and die the next day.

May be because of this people say that time is money. The less of it you have the more precious it becomes to you and the more desperate you are to own it. You feel either you're forever chasing it or time is always chasing you in one mad circle.

Here in Jakarta the days for me go by as if there are only a few hours in the day as opposed to 24 hours. Come Wednesday it might as well be Friday and before you know it it's the middle of the year already, which might as well be Christmas. Time probably bends a lot more here, making the beginning of thw day closer to the end.

In Copenhagen where I spent over a week in their early part of Summer I felt something which I hadn't experienced since childhood. The days seemed long and there are so much that could be done, all in a timely pace without time always snapping at your heels.

For a start the sun in the early month of June sets around ten o'clock in the evening, stretching itself until the peak of Summer when the division between darkness and light is very narrow indeed.

Coupled with an apparent lack of pressure to be active (normal offices, museums and shops close religiously at five during the week and don't open at all on Sundays) there is not much for the visitor to do other than walk the cobbled streets of the Danish capital or while one's time at a restaurant over a cup of tea and literally wait for the sun to go down. Then it is a short hop on a bus that navigates through smooth traffic or a pleasant and leisurely stroll on wide pavement to one's hotel.

In a life where I normally have to create time in order to make room to accommodate all my time consuming activities, to be able to feel time moving at an almost lackadaisical pace to a point where it seems to cease moving altogether, I must say, is a luxury.

Compare it with my typical day in Jakarta. My need for time to pack in all my activities has gotten to a point that I don't fret over the 'macet' anymore. Between reading and answering emails on my blackberry, instant message colleagues, mobile chatting with friends, trying to read the newspaper, putting on my lipgloss and get my face fixed for the office while trying to keep up with current issues on the radio, I almost even feel sorry when, close to an hour later, I get to the office.

Then the routine begins. If there's a show I have to host, then half the day is practically gone already. If there are meetings, then they gobble up every available minute even as I multitask, conducting parallel meetings via SMS or chat.

Precious moments to myself such as the lunch break or bathroom breaks are rare commodities that still leave me connected whether to the virtual world or parallel universe of planning and mental acrobatics of what ifs and what should have been...

But I'm not complaining. A brief respite from chasing time is well and good - for a short time - but what makes it valuable is the feeling that time is precious and our time on earth is a privilege. (Desi Anwar)

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