What is the essence of time? We all have time, we know what it is, but not everyone knows what to do with the time they have. The meaning of time has multiple views. One is that time is a dimension in which events occur in sequence and time itself can be measured. A television show starts at 1:00 PM with commercial breaks every seven minutes.
That’s the time we know and love but often ignore in the era of DVRs (digital video recorders) and streaming media.
Another view of time is that it’s merely part of the fundamental human intellect in which we quantify the duration of events via intervals. Either way, time can be measured incrementally and by actions. For example, it takes me seven minutes to shower, but my wife, at half my size, takes 15 minutes to shower.
That’s a conundrum.
Recently I decided to stop by the corner gasoline station for a Pepsi refill. As I was pulling into the station a woman driving a car cut in front of me, obviously in a big hurry to get the lone open parking stall. While I circled for a spot to park, she rushed inside the gasoline station.
By the time I parked and went inside she was at the fountain pouring herself a diet Coke and acting as if she had all the time in the world. Maybe she was using the time she saved by rushing to get inside. Slowly she filled her plastic cup, even more slowly she grabbed a straw, pulled off the plastic covering, and inserted the straw into the drink, sloshing it around the ice.
Wait. There’s more.
She grabbed a napkin and wiped the edges of the cup, then placed a plastic lid on top, grabbed 27 more straws and slipped those into her pocket. Remember, I took time to circle the parking lot, found parking, and then walked inside and witness Ms. Speedy Gonzalez perform her plastic rubbing ritual.
When she left the fountain dispenser she almost ran into me in a scurrying hurry to get to the register up front to pay for her drink. In one moment of time her actions were purely slow motion, yet in another moment she moved past me faster than Dr. Who in the TARDIS.
I grabbed my plastic cup, filled it to the top with ice, placed it under the Pepsi dispenser and pressed the button to fill it up. 30 to 40 seconds, tops. Then I browsed around the Hostess cakes area (and thought better of it, knowing that a double sugar high wasn’t going to make my day), before heading to the front to pay for my drink at the register.
Guess who was still there?
The same woman, in such a hurry to get into the building, who tried to slow to a near standstill time as we know it while filling up her drink, then sped up again and bumped into other patrons, now had slowed down and decided to pay for her drink in an assortment of pennies, nickels, and dimes, which, by the time she added up what she had on the counter, wasn’t enough anyway, so the change went back into her purse and she used paper money instead, but had to count the change given to her by the clerk.
Meanwhile, I’ve lost hair, gained a few pounds, added a few wrinkles, and what hair I had left had become more salt than pepper. Time is moving ahead faster than ever, but in this moment had slowed to a crawl again. Whatever the essence of time is defined to be, that woman didn’t, wouldn’t, can’t, and won’t understand it because her actions actually changed the space time continuum.