Thursday, October 18, 2007


The Lilliputians in "Gulliver's Travels" (remember those little guys?) note that Gulliver's pocket watch is probably a god. This is because (they reason) he rarely did anything without consulting it. He called it his oracle and said it pointed the time for every action of his life.

"Travels" was written over 200 years ago. This was a comment about the then modern preoccupation with time. But has anything changed? Gulliver sure sounds like me.

Is "time" an idol to us? Or an almost-idol? A god that decrees the level of anxiety we feel, whether we are good or bad (did you get everything done today that you planned? You didn't? You naughty human!), what is possible and impossible.

Whatever happened to living in the moment? Or is that irresponsible? What did Jesus mean by "Don't worry about tomorrow"? Was he just talking about focussing on what you can do, not what you can't? Or was this also about time?

"Idols not only enslave their admirers ... they also transform people into replicas of themselves. So people (act) with a repetitive regularity which has no resemblence to the rhythmic life of a living being." (Robert Banks, The Tyranny of Time)


Yvonne said...

I read a great book called Blackfoot Physics by F. David Peat. In it, a man goes to visit a Native American elder, and the elder notices that he is always looking at his watch. So he asks the man why this is, and he says "To see what time it is". The elder says, "No, you're doing it to see what time it isn't."

I didn't wear a watch for about five years, to cure myself of the habit of looking to see the time - I recommend it, it helps you to live for the moment.

Pete Aldin said...

I like that. That's really cool. There's a Will Rogers quote that goes a little something like this:

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

Living in the moment has been a goal for the past 3 years ... and occasionally I'm even doing it.

(And by the way, Yvonne, if you like this blog - & you have kids - go check out You'd be a welcome guest there!)