ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD
what needs doing doesnt actually need doing right now
or immediately but simply soon or in the
are 52 weeks in any one year, seven days equal one week with each
day being made up of 24 hours. One hour is 60 minutes long and one
minute has a total of 60 seconds. Time, from the day we are born,
right up until the day we eventually die, rules our lives.
Those of us who work are mostly contracted to a 371Ž2-hour working week.
Each day is 8 hours long and we are allowed half an hour for lunch. We
must arrive at work at the time set by our employer. In order to do so
we have to leave the house at a certain time. It may take us twenty minutes
to drive to work and a further ten minutes to walk from where we park
the car to the office. If taking a bus, we need to know how long it will
take us to walk to the bus stop, when the bus will arrive, how long the
journey will take to the stop nearest our work and finally how long the
walk is from the stop to the office.
When we eventually arrive at work some of us are required to clock
in and clock out thus recording our exact time of arrival
and departure. Each persons time sheet will be checked to make sure they
have at least been present for the minimum number of hours stipulated
in the contract of employment. Punitive measures may be imposed against
those who are consistently late or do not work the required total expected.
In some companies, smokers are penalised for their habit by having to
work in the time they spend having a cigarette. If we need
to take time off to attend to personal matters then often
that time will either be deducted in monetary terms from our salary or
from the total amount of holiday time we are entitled to.
English is literally full of phrases related to or referring to time.
The clock is ticking Time is running out Time
is money Your times up are just a very few. We
are obsessed by time, we live our lives by the clock or perhaps it is
the clock that actually lives our lives for us. We are always in a rush
to get to that next meeting or to catch a bus, train or plane. Stressed
if we think we might be late, angry if there is even the slightest delay.
Our whole society is so time dependant that if just one cog in the giant
wheel that keeps the clock ticking is out of sync with the rest the whole
structure could come tumbling down.
We have created time dependent systems. Everything we do is in some way
related to time. But if time is so important and if our society would
collapse without it being strictly controlled how does the rest of the
world manage? We see time as being linear, everything has a start and
finish time. Yet many cultures in the world see time as being infinitely
elastic with past, present and future blurring into one big whole. An
Arab will not start to get stressed because he notices he is five minutes
late for a meeting. Indeed, he may be a day late and it would still seem
of little consequence. If you have ever worked with the Spanish you may
have noticed very little either starts or finishes for when it was originally
scheduled. And just try and get a Frenchman to wolf down his lunch in
half an hour, impossible mon ami.
All of us are living on borrowed time; exactly how much we
have left is impossible to know until it is too late. It is up to us to
make the most of what time we have left, to decide if we want to spend
it having apoplectic fits whenever someone is late or getting totally
stressed for the sake of a few minutes. Language is a powerful tool and
we can use it to give ourselves a greater degree of flexibility where
time is concerned. Instead of using the prepositions on or
at to depict when something will happen we can use around
or about. Perhaps what needs doing doesnt actually need
doing right now or immediately but simply soon
or in the near future. It may take time for this idea to sink
in but thats fine, take as much as you need, Im in no hurry.
Ian Bowie works and lives in Finland and is currently taking the long
winter's days there to write a thriller
More by Ian THE COMMUTER
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