Episode 86: Our relationship with Time

Our relationship with Time is complicated.  And it is one of the unseen, taken-for-granted aspects of our lives.  We usually know exactly what time we wake up in the morning.  And we wake up to a schedule that is dictated by linear, clock-based, minute-by-minute Time.

And yet in an interview poet and writer John O’Donohue describes, “I think there are zones [of time] in us as well.  There’s surface time which is really rapid-fire and over-structured.  And stolen from you, thieved all the time.  And then if you sink down, like beneath the surface of the ocean…deep below the surface where its still and things move slower…” there is a different kind of time.

By thinking differently about time, Krista Tippett reflects, by approaching time differently we can have a different sense of it.

This week, Clay and Sarah ask — what kind of relationship do we have with time?


In this episode:

  • our sense of time
  • a history of time
  • the need for speed
  • the eternal present moment
  • kinds of experiences of Time: dreamtime, boredom, flow-state etc


Do we still have a sense that there is time for things? Or does time feel like a bully and we are ordered about by it?

“For me,” Donohue continues, “philosophically stress is a perverted relationship with time. So rather than being a subject of your own time, you have become its target and victim.”

Of course historically, we would have had a slightly different relationship with time. We would have marked the time in looser, wider portions… by the hour rather than by the minute. It would have been the sundial, the sun itself, or the bell that would have called out to us to mark the passage of the day.

And yet since the industrial revolution, the dominance of clock-time has remained so steady that many have claimed it was not the steam engine but the clock that marked the modern age.

In this modern post-industrial age, time has become a commodity.  Something you could own.  Something you could sell (now instead of our labour we often sell our time between 9am-5pm…or more likely longer).

And because time is money and efficiency is the aim of the game, time has become something we could waste…multitasking has become a virtue… and speed is celebrated in all things.

“At least recognise,” James Gleick, author of Faster advises, “that neither technology nor efficiency can acquire more time for you because time is not a thing you have lost.  It is not a thing you ever had.  It is what you live in.  You can drift in its currents, or you can swim.”

And this of course brings us back to all those spiritual teachers who calls us into presence and into the eternal PRESENT which is the only time there is.