Sunday Reflections

Sundays are an opportunity to kick back, relax, and reflect on the bigger picture.

Man sitting on a chair, typing on laptop, with clock in background
Man sitting on a chair, typing on laptop, with clock in background

Time. What is it? It is a question that both physicists and philosophers ask. I am not a physicist.

To the extent I have any understanding of science, I view the concept of time as a circular argument.

· Distance = speed * time

· Time = distance / speed

· Speed = distance / time

There is no time without space, so much so that Einstein felt compelled to combine them in one concept, spacetime; so much so that some assert that time is an emergent property of a universe that has space — a reasonable claim, IMO. In reality, change / speed, space, and time are all entangled in one thing, how we measure time. Time is a measurement of change, and how we measure that change, impacts how we think about time.

There are a couple of other words in the English language that touch on time. Eternity is the idea of either endless time, or supernatural experience outside of time. Existence is a topic of philosophical debate, somewhere in the area of being, having substance. Though some traditions also deal with immaterial being.

Great fiction gives us a way to think about some of these ideas. The classic, “Groundhog Day” follows the lead character through a multitude of experiences, but no net passing of time. He is stuck in the same day, until he becomes the person he is destined to become, and/or the world is better off for him becoming. Net time does not pass, but yet he is existing, and he is having experiences. Yes, within each day, time is passing on the normal scale clocks measure it, but not from day to day.

If the universe collapsed, leaving no space, and no change, would there still be time? In the way we think about time, no. Our definition of time requires the ability to measure change. Would there be existence? Perhaps, though we not be conscious of it.

For millions of Americans, and millions around the world, there is existence. Home-locked, there is a kind of Ground Hog day experience. No international vacations, perhaps even no interstate vacations. The regular arrival of groceries and pizza. The same tired talking heads on television, having the same tired conversations. The ability to measure time, on a macro, existential, and life exploring way, has been greatly reduced. There are other life contexts in which similar assertions could be made: jobs, relationships, and overall life experience.

Globally, we are living in an alternative reality. We are not living the lives we would be living, if the pandemic had not happened. We exist, but in some sense, the way we measure time, on life scales, has changed: drinks with friends on Friday night, family gatherings, and more. Existence has continued, but in some sense, time has stopped; not from the point of view of a physicist, but in some existential sense, our plans for change and new experiences have been put on hold. If not for the changing colors in trees or continuing national sports, many would have nothing by which to measure the passing of time.

Time can end, but existence can continue. We measure time most accurately at an atomic level. We measure time most emotionally and meaningfully on a larger scale.

Existence is the property of being. Time is the measurement of change, within space. Two different physical, philosophical, and existential concepts.

Registered “non-partisan”, blogging about culture, politics, technology, photography, travel, and life. Owner of “art.bohcay.com”.

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