“Timing has always been a key element in my life. I have been blessed to have been in the right place at the right time.”–Buzz Aldrin
I begin setting clocks and wristwatches each Saturday afternoon ahead of Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time changes. I don’t mind this minor inconvenience because I like to spend time with timepieces.
Although most of my wall clocks automatically change by monitoring WWVB’s time signal, I still like to dust them and check their batteries. The watches get special attention because I’ve enjoyed wearing watches most of my life. None of the watches are rare nor fancy nor expensive. They’re just eye catching or fun to wear. Only one of them monitors WWVB, the others have basic quartz or off-the-shelf automatic mechanical movements. I think of them as the men’s version of costume jewelry.
While carefully cleaning the watches yesterday, I contemplated about time and our human perception of it. Time is a concept that measures the numerical order of change within our three-dimensional space. Some people claim time is the forth dimension, but it actually is not. Meantime, time is a subject that people think about a lot.
I relate to the Buzz Aldrin quote that started this little ramble. I’ve long felt that I was born in a very special time period. As a boomer, I’ve witnessed immense, exciting technological and social advancements that prior generations could barely if ever imagine. I take none of them for granted. Although it’s fun to reminisce about the past, I’m not addicted to nostalgia. For the most part, the past is finished and remains as lesson material for the present.
Sometimes videos that showcase automobiles from the 1950s and older appear on my YouTube page. I’ll click on a few and pine for one of the cars. Eventually I remember how inconvenient and unsafe those cars are. The engines needed much more maintenance and tweaking than the one in my present car. I never have to check the timing nor replace the sparkplugs. I only need to change the motor oil and check the other fluids on a regular basis. In the past, there were always problems with carburators, ignitions systems, and breakdowns on the highway. Also, generally speaking, the old cars were designed with survival of the car but not the occupants in mind.
Time is a very maleable concept. Time can drag on and on while waiting for something. Otherwise, time seems to swiftly vanish whenever I’m engaged in conversation with someone who enjoys discussing interesting topics. When visiting with people who mentally “click” with me, time seems irrelevant.
“Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out.”–Stephen Hawking
We all can remember incidents and scenarios in which we screwed up. The most embarrassing situations were those during which we ignored our own common sense. There was no real need to relearn difficult lessons, but we messed up anyway. Who hasn’t wished we could travel back in time so as to correct our snafus? If we could go back in time and have a conversation with our younger selves, what advice and warnings would we share with them?
Such a scenario is absurd, yet is useful for us to ponder in the present. For example, I would tell my adolescent self not to worry about what other people’s opinions about me might be. I’d also insist that I not smoke that first cigarette. These two bits of advice would have made a world of difference in my life. As I reflect upon these imaginary situations, I feel gratitude for the lessons like these that I have eventually learned and taken to heart.
Today in the United States is when Standard Time is back in effect. This shift is normal unless you live in Arizona, Hawaii, and many U.S. Territories. Meantime, I’m one of the few people who appreciate changing from Daylight Savings to Standard Time and back again. The shifts help me engage more closely to the concept of time.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes astrophysicist, educator, science communicator, and writer, Neil deGrasse Tyson. “You’ve never seen me debate anybody. On anything. Ever. My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus another. What the laws of physics say.”