Wednesday, October 21, 2020

#295 / Trucker Time

The Wall Street Journal ran a review on July 21, 2020, which discussed a book by Joseph Mazur, The Clock Mirage: Our Myth of Measured Time. Of course, I haven't read the book (just the review), but I did find the review worthwhile. I bet the book is, too.

How do we define "time?" Augustine had something useful to say about this (assuming that Mazur's quote is accurate):

What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not.

Augustine's statement about time does strike me as rather insightful, but of course Augustine's statement of the question doesn't answer it; it only poses the problem. To answer the question, Mazur quotes a long-haul trucker: 

That's what time is, the trucker tells Mr. Mazur, "remembering what you did or looking forward to what you will do."
Memory and anticipation, that's what "time is," if we believe the long-haul trucker. 

All that "remembering" and "looking forward," of course, occurs outside of time, in the present moment. Logically, using "trucker time" as our definition, this instant in which we live is "timeless." 

Albert Einstein seems to have been thinking along the same lines. He is credited with this observation

The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
That thought brings me back to George Fox, the first Quaker. I have cited to Fox before, on exactly this question of time, with all its implications for human action and the meaning of our human existence: 

Ye have no time but this present time, therefore prize your time, for your soul’s sake.

This quote comes from 1652, but I think our Friend George was operating on "trucker time" even then! The implications of the idea that "time" is always just a remembrance or an anticipation are rather momentous; at least, so it seems to me. Neither inevitability nor necessity actually exist, right in the moment in which we live. There, we are always free. 

Let us try to keep our minds fresh in this thought. 

For our soul's sake! For our ability to create the New World for which all humans so desperately long.

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