Wednesday, 29 June 2011


In language the word "time" has commonly accepted usages.  We speak of "spending time", "using time", "biding time", "wasting time", as if time were a commodity.  We "measure" time by the clock and the calendar, as in "waiting times", "delivery times", "arrival and departure times", "timetables", "time zones" and "life time".

A 'life time" was brought powerfully into my mind yesterday as I attended the funeral of a ninety-seven year old lady.  I use the term "lady" because women of that generation were generally more accustomed to that term than to being described as a "woman".  Here was a life measured in almost a century.  A century of great change: of two world wars, the holocaust, the atom bomb, universal sufferage, economic crises and times of mass unemployment, of increased travel abroad, of the formation of the National Health Service, of improved educational opportunities,  of scientific invention and technological change, and of the development of the internet. 

Kathleen's life time also had a personal and a domestic span: as a girl, a young woman, a wife, a mother, aunt and grandmother. She was a person of our time.      

The words from Ecclesiastes were read:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away;
A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace."

Another philosophical view of a life time is to be seen in the British Museum Afghan exhibition: the words of Clearchus of Soli, of Aristotle's peripatetic school.  On a funeral monument of about 300-250 BC are the words translated as:

"As a child, learn courtesy,
As a young man, learn to control the passions
In middle age, be just
In old age, give good advice
Then die, without regret."

I am grateful to Sue for drawing my attention to these wise words.

What then about time?  For me "time" is just a word we use to help us to understand and to accommodate into our daily living the phenomenon of change, and of movement from one state to another.  It is the change and the movement and how we deal with the phenomena that fascinates me.  I am open to all ideas and all wise words on the subject.

Two further philosophical utterances that I find especially useful in helping to guide me in my time on earth are:

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." 
Charles Darwin

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

How about you?  What do you think?