Thursday, 8 January 2009

Tempus Fugit

It's back to school this week for Sally and for Sarah. I assuage my guilt by trying to persuade myself that they both secretly enjoy it (actually, they do!) but I have to admit I'm not in the least bit envious. It's amazing how easily you can lose old habits, like watching the clock and - usually - panicking about what still needs to be done before the bloody bell rings.
Of course, we still have some fixed points in the day - the school run, for example. But even that's a little more relaxed now I don't have to hare across town on my bike the moment Sally's safely in her playground. Running my life according to the clock is something I would gladly never have to do again. And the luxury of not being governed by the iron dictat of industrial time makes the whole business seem so artificial. If Einstein was right, of course, then time can be flexible; it's all relative, as he liked to say. Charlie's coming up to his first birthday so a day for him is an enormous portion of his life. But as I get older, twenty-four hours passes in a flash! Sally measures the week in 'sleeps', counting down the nights before the next event. And Sarah is constantly checking her Teacher's Planner to see what day it is, and who she's got to teach.
I remember reading how in pre-industrial times not only would the sun (and moon) dictate the pattern of a day, but workers in the fields would listen for the local church bells ringing - not the hour - but to summon the faithful to the next religious office. Even the calendar is an imposition: January 1st this year was held up for a second, and yesterday - if you still follow the old Julian year - was Christmas Day! All of which helps justify our decision to keep the tree up after twelfth night this year - at least til Charlie's birthday!
And on the subject of the calendar, here's a question from my finals paper (many moons ago): 'How is it that a calendar - which has no moving parts - can, unlike a stopped clock, still record the passage of time?'
I did Philosophy!

35 comments:

  1. Gosh, D, that reminds me of a one-man show i saw about Lewis Carroll. He had this concept about a stopped clock and a working clock - all too deep for me but it sounded similar to what you're asking. I really don't understand sundials most of all. What is the point of them? I used to think they were bird baths gone wrong!

    Good they're back at school. my kids needed it, despite what they say xxx

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  3. I like not being against the clock, too much. I mean like you there are the pick up/drop off times, and regular times for things like swimming and playgroup. But I don't worry about them at all.

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  4. Great, isn't it SPD? I like the French attitude - they never seem in a hurry (unless they're driving). And they take two hours for lunch!

    Apparently, Jenny, people seriously objected to the sundail when it was first invented. Thought they'd soon be ruled by it! If only they had been birdbaths gone wrong...

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  5. I can simply tell the passage of time this week by how many times I've gone to bed feeling guilty for shouting at my children. And who needs an alarm clock when you have a bouncy 2 year old who wakes on the dot at 5.55 every morning.

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  6. One day back at school and I have a poorly child. DOH - sometimes school has a lot to answer for!

    I love the holidays precisely because there is no clock-watching whatsoever, no early mornings, just 'being'.

    x

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  7. I'm often heard to say how much better life would be if we could be ruled by the sun rising and downing. I do miss my organic alarm clock...but he's now grown to be a teenager with a whole new body clock...

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  8. It's a sign of getting older when the week zips past in a flash; and it does! But that's partly having children and so there is always something to do - taking them to dance, computer studies, sport etc etc. And there's washing for four (in our household) and all that entails (ironing, ugh). And before you know it it's the weekend again. And that goes by far too fast as well.....

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  9. Are you going to give us the answer about the calendar?????
    Sx
    Today has been Friday until someone told me differently.

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  10. I'd quite like to have a word with whoever invented 'time'.

    'Hello Father Time/Mr Big Bang/Mother Nature/Old Bloke With White Beard. Can you please explain to me why my 11 day break over Xmas/New Year went by in what felt like 3 days?

    And why does time fly when you're having fun? It doesn't make sense. Fun is meant to be enjoyed, cherished and experienced for a LONG TIME.

    Something is clearly broken. Please fix it.

    And whilst I'm here - what are the winning numbers for the Euro Millions on Friday?'

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  11. I dabbled with philosophy in my first OU course and I'm so glad it was just that - a dabble. I've not got that sort of mind. You, obviously, have :)

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  12. Oh, I don't think so, FF. Just determination. Having changed degree course once (from history) I could hardly do it again! Did you know one question was simply 'Is the King of France bald?'. I kid you not.

    Funnily enough I want to know that, too LBB. All of it!

    You realise I borrowed your title, DD? Ta! (My Latin isn't up to much.)

    I think our lack of contact with natural rhythms and cycles has a lot to answer for actually, NB. It's a bit of a hobby-horse of mine (hence the book, Writing Therapy) but I really feel kids especially suffer from having to jump through artificial hoops. The bell goes approximately ten times (at least) each day at school, each one being a mild stress inducer.

    Just 'being' - that's the answer, Kitty. And sometimes that alone is hard enough.

    Not my speciality, Scarlett. Sorry! (I didn't choose that question - but I sure as hell made sure I smuggled out the question paper, otherwise no-one would ever have believed me.)

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  13. I answered each of those comments in order. So why is Scarlett's at the bottom?

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  14. When the school bell went at the end of my French and German classes it was a large stress reliever.

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  15. oooh I love that philosophical question, but the last half a bottle of wine has rendered me incapable of forming a coherant reply!!

    Here's to non-clock time!

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  16. Love the question - don't know the answer !!!
    The whole of last year seemed to flash past .
    It's my 8 year old's birthday on Sunday - that sweet little baby's grown fast , my son will be 21 in April - where did that all go ?
    The holidays felt as if they where a really long break but I didn't get half I intended done and now it's back to the slog of work - ah well here we go again , pass the bottle I need a swig !

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  17. But what about the bell that told you French and German lessons were just starting?

    Cheers, Sub. I find I can grapple with the abstract thought processes more clearly after half a bottle, personally!

    Oh, that's a proper question Jan. Where do the days and years go? Here, have the bottle. It's a decent red.

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  18. I'm not very keen on clocks and neither is hubbie. I particularly like that Dali image of a melted one. I agree with you in so many ways: stress on us, stress on the children...I often keep dreaming of going abroad so the children can escape it all but the cynic in me reminds me that it is creeping over there too!

    If it gets too much I think we may make a quick dash for it! i.e. cheaper wine and less of the clock shlock!

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  19. I wonder if IT God would notice if I became pregnant and stayed at home to bring up the baby ?

    Is it a sign I'm not enjoying teaching like I used to or just I'm missing that baby smell from my life ?

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  20. A stopped clock does record time - you simply measure for how long it's been stopped.

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  21. Oh dear, I thought that it was yesterday today.

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  22. Oh, I don’t know. Erm... a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day?? Is that too darned obvious? It's hardly a philosophical reply.

    Time seems to do the opposite of what I want it to do.

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  23. I think this was the first break that I actually enjoyed with the kids and didn't freak out that they were home every day.

    We thoroughly lost track of time, and am having a hard time getting back into The Routine.

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  24. Oh yes, Hadriana - I would if I could (flee, that is!)

    The latter, surely AG. I can bottle it if you like and send you some?

    But what with, SS?

    And now, CW, tomorrow is today. Oh dear...

    Well at least a stopped clock is totally accurate twice each day, Dave. Not sure that would have passed muster on the finals paper, though! (Not sure what would, either.)

    Oh, The Routine. Nice not to have one, even for a short while isn't it, Susanna?

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  25. I love the way different ages have a different perspective of time.

    The Philosophy of Understanding Time... erm, hang on, the batterys' gone flat on me watch! heh heh.

    Hope you're enjoying your weekend, and keeping nice and warm and cozy.

    Cyalayta
    Mal :)

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  26. I agree, I'm dictated to by the clock and the school bells in term time, often thinking "No, no, the bell can't go yet, just five more minutes to finish this marking", but then in the summer holiday I don't wear a watch and I instinctively know what time it is just by the position of the sun or the quality of light. Weird!

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  27. Happy birthday Charlie :-D

    I too often don't wear a watch in the school holidays. It's wonderful and I love how you just tune into your own body clock.

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  28. A calendar doesn't record the passage of time, does it? It records what you will do or have done with your time and that is its purpose. A clock does record the passage of time, so a stopped clock has no purpose.

    But then I'm no philosopher.

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  29. One year old. Happy Birthday Charlie! Wow. I just love that birthday. Such a milestone.
    However, I Hate Clocks. Am totally governed by time and dont like it. Love those days when meals come when we are hungry and bed time comes when we are tired.

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  30. Seem's almost inevitable, doesn't it Mal?

    That's a wonderful, natural position to be in WM! We need more time like that.

    And you're right, AMA - it takes no time for our bodies to tune in to more natural rhythms.

    But does a clock record it, Z, or simply measure it? And by setting out the year ahead, the calander surely measures time as well? Hang on a minute...

    Oh, if only life could be that simple LWM. The world would probably be the better for it.

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  31. Measure, indeed, is a better word. So in fact the question, deliberately, is quite meaningless, and entirely specious. I would not be cut out for Philosophy. My brain is simple and I am impatient. It's sad.

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  33. Wow! What an interesting post, and so many interesting replies!
    I very clearly remember a moment that happened sometime in the first three months of my sons life...
    Most days were blurry, sleep was a very rare luxury. I had fallen asleep, and the boy (then the baby) woke me up. The clock said 5:46 Try as I might I couldn't figure out if it was 5:46am or 5:46pm. The husband was working rotating shifts at that time, and it was winter so the darkness didn't give me any hints. Eventually I decided that it really didn't matter.
    Well, now the boy is older and we have appointments to keep and we all sleep at night so time has come back.
    You know what I think? I think time is a myth. That's right, you heard me, I said it. It's a concept we invented to bring order to our lives. Even though we pretend time is cyclical, it really isn't. What do 5:46pm this Monday and 5:46pm last Monday have to do with each other? Everything? Nothing? When we give names to the months and pretend they go round and round,we have a sense of time passing. I can remember last January, and now it's January again, it's not the same January, it's a year later, so I've been all the way around the sun. "So? So? So? I will show you another good game that I know...." We are not going round and round, always forward, Even though we say it's January again it's a whole new month with the same name.
    A calendar makes more sense to me than a watch. I understand the concept of a month, how many days it will be until the moon is in this phase again. But a second? A minute? An hour? Without a clock these concept mean nothing to me.
    Okay that's enough thinking for today, I'm likely to break my brain if I continue... O_o

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  34. Nice post, tick VG. I have travelled back in time to 2009 to comment as I can't get the comments to come up in the 2010 post. You posted your update on my birthday, as it happens, when I traditionally become maudlin about time. True to form I had a bit of a weep into my decaff latte when my husband took me to lunch, about being fortingf**kingfive and home with two young children and writing part time and not earning very much for any of my efforts in either realm. Oh the self pity! The following day someone put me at forty so I cheered up. Perhaps I'll get shallower as I get older so by sixty I won't give a toss - that'd be the way to go.
    Nice work, will visit more often!

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