Imagine A Life Without Timekeeping

I spent an hour of my precious time on my computer this morning. I spent it online, checking my emails, signing in on Facebook, then browsing the web on different shopping websites. I woke up early from a bad dream and couldn’t go back to sleep.

Usually when something like that happens I stay in bed and read. But not today. Even though I grabbed my book from my bedside table I left it unopened on my bed and reached for my laptop. At first I tried to convince myself that it was only for a few minutes, just to check my email. But of course as always I couldn’t keep my promise.

Lately I have planned not to spend much time on social media and especially on Facebook. Instead I wish to use that time to work on the different writing projects that I have dreamt of for so long but haven’t yet started. That’s why I have limited my entry to these pages to twice a day and only for a few minutes at that.

As some of you know I am a fountain pen enthusiast. I like to write longhand on blank paper using fountain pens filled with different colors of ink. My love for this started early in my childhood when my late father got me my first fountain pen and bottle of ink. Since then my passion for these fine writing instruments has grown and my interest has drifted to include other stationery items like mechanical pencils and notebooks.

I love journals and diaries and notebooks of every shape and size, with white paper, colored paper, lined paper, blank paper, you name it. A good and uplifting pastime for me would be to enter a bookstore or a stationery shop and roam around and browse for hours, watching the different items on display.

These past two years have been extremely difficult for me. There were times when I was physically unable to do anything but lie in bed and read. After some time reading also became difficult and exhausting. I couldn’t concentrate for longer periods of time in one sitting.

Lau Tzu writes:
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

In order to stay positive and since I couldn’t physically visit those places I searched for different websites that sold pens, notebooks, pencils, and journals, and subscribed to their newsletters. Browsing those sites and watching all those beautiful items that I loved was the only way I knew to let things flow naturally forward.

I believed that what I was going through was only temporary and that things would get better one day soon. But the longer I waited the harder it became to stay positive. Hence while I waited, which seemed to be a very long while, I visited all those sites every day and watched and fell in love all over again with my favorite pens and notebooks.

And now that things are looking more hopeful I am trying to break away from that habit and try and be more productive. It takes time, courage and determination to do that. And sometimes I can’t help but waste my time like this morning.

Mitch Albom writes:

“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”


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1 Response to Imagine A Life Without Timekeeping

  1. Heinrich Brumfield says:

    Wow! The timing of your article is just incredible. Minutes before it arrived on my email this afternoon, I sent an email to the Sales Manager of a Jeweler store in Cape Town, who are the agents for Jaeger LeCoultre Swiss watches, to complain about my one-year-old Master Control Chronograph which is losing about 4 minutes per month (the industry standard is 2.58min/month). What effect does 4 minutes fast or slow have on my life? Why am I so annoyed with this? Probably because I have a cheap Chinese watch that keeps way better time than this high-end model? But in the big scheme of things, what is 4 minutes?

    At home, my little dog/Chihuahua, Kahla, wakes me up at exactly 02:36 every morning to take him out for his twice-nightly ablutions (the 2nd time is within seconds of 04:30). He has no watch or clock, yet his timing is more accurate than a high-end Swiss watch? Every time I get up to take him out, I think to myself; “how does he do this?” This has been his way for 9 years!

    Your article also reminded me of an ex-colleague, a senior manager, who, for over 15 years that we worked together, always arrived late for meetings; usually between 20 minutes (if we’re lucky) and 45 minutes. Wonderful, kind, loving, empathetic person. Totally disrespectful to her co-workers.

    This also reminds me of a professor that served on the same committee as I did, from 1987 to 1990. He never arrived on time for a meeting; always 30 minutes late. Eventually, the Chairman sent a different Agenda to the professor – with a meeting time 30 minutes earlier than what appeared on the rest of the committee member’s documents. Why does someone continue to do this over a prolonged period, especially if the discrepancy has been pointed out?

    Yet, when I look at the life of our dear past-president, Nelson Mandela, and also Mahatma Gandhi, I see two individuals who placed a tremendous premium on the importance of keeping good time; never to be late for meetings (and in doing so, to show respect and love for others).

    When we look at Nature and the Universe, we see the magnificent timing of events; some measured in micro-seconds, some in days, others in months, years and centuries (e.g. the orbiting of comets).

    Personally, I think it’s good to keep good time, out of respect for ourselves and for others. It’s when we either neglect it or become obsessed by it, that bad behaviors manifest themselves.

    Our time here, on Planet Earth, is limited. We should use it wisely and productively.

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