Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some more thoughts on time

I have written several times about the notion of time. The importance of understanding time is fully encapsulated in a piece of trash. A piece of trash speaks to so many aspects of time--legacy, compulsiveness, convenience, instantaneousness, longevity, seasons, and cycles, and contradictions abound when thinking about time.

I have been felt time go by quicker and quicker each year, and people I have talked to that are elder to me tend to agree with this. But it also seems like time is moving ever more quickly nowadays, maybe because more and more is happening around us. We are constantly surrounded by messages of people trying to sell us things and surrounded by distractions. This is a fundamental feature of capitalism, as Marx, in his book Grundrisses, has pointed out:  
“While capital must on one side strive to tear down every spatial barrier to intercourse, i.e., to exchange, and conquer the whole earth for its market, it strives on the other side to annihilate this space with time…The more developed the capital…the more does it strive simultaneously for an even greater extension of the market and for greater annihilation of space by time.”  
Planned obsolescence means that we will always be anachronistic, and our culture demands being up to speed materially. On the other hand, I have realised the importance of being fully present (not materially), in the here and now, for mental and spiritual well-being, as well as to reduce our burdens on the world.

At the same time, I have been thinking about the importance of a 'pause' button for this culture, something that would make us all stop for a while, and think about what we are doing, something that would allow us space to breathe and to relax, and to reflect. I believe that one of the most valuable things to us in today's day and age are space and time for us to think, for ourselves, about whether we are living to the fullest of our capacities as empathic, conscious, mindful, and moral beings.

I say this knowing that time is not on our side in the fight to halt (or to lessen) the huge ecological crises that are presenting themselves at our doorsteps. I say this having the feeling that four or five years of doing nothing substantive towards the causes of environmental justice and sustainability is four or five years lost, four or five years of more infrastructure and inertia that will have to be overcome in four or five years time. And so, what does it mean to take a break from being active? I fully appreciate the importance of breaks, and the way breaks allow a more rejuvenated approach to our lives. But how can we hit the pause button for ourselves, when others (including the environment) are being continually subjected to harsh and violent treatment from the decadently materialistic and privileged? I don't have answers, and as always, would love your feedback.

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