October 22, 2015

A Craving For Understanding How Time Passes

Recently I’ve developed, involuntarily, a craving for understanding how time passes, how much have passed and if I’m aware of it and not out of my control. It’s not about using time efficiently or productively, actually not at all, but more about the recognition of time.

Often times I feel like my time has been “stolen”, like “how could it be possible that 1 hour passed so quickly when I was hanging out with my friend?”, that’s happy moments, and “oh gosh I can’t believe I’ve spent 20 minutes to wash the dishes”, that could be the natural outcome of a chore.

What Time Is It?

“What time is it?”, a couldn’t be even simpler question that we may ask ourselves or others several times a day, it’s not just about understanding what’s the time now to arrange your next activity, but also how much time have passed since the last “checkpoint”, to have a sense of it.

When working in front of my laptop, with a glance I could just tell what time is it. But the challenge comes when I’m “off”. I don’t have a watch and that wasn’t a problem to me until now. How do you know what time is it? Either check your phone or ask someone nearby, I guess that would be the answer for most of people who adopt the same lifestyle.

Sure you could pull the thing from your pocket, but that’s a huge obstacle. That extra process could prevent you from even trying to understand the time, also sometimes you’re physically impossible to reach your pocket when your hands are busy(tight?).

All these things give me a compelling reason to wear a watch again. I’ve purchased a Pebble watch and I’m very excited to see how could I utilize this tool to have a better sense of time.

How Would You Perceive Time?

There’s an interesting watchless watch called Durr, it doesn’t tell the time, it’s not smart at all, it just vibrates every five minutes, gives you a new measurement about time. It’s a very interesting concept, but also reminds us the big gap between how we perceive time and how it passes physically. Like the writer says, what I want is a friend reminder of how uselessly unproductive I can be sometimes.

I’ve found myself amazingly suck at time management. So many mornings I check the time of the train, and tell myself I should leave the house in 14 minutes and then find myself running late 2 minutes and miss the train.

Then let’s think in the bigger span, in one week, one month and even years, how could you tell time actually passed, how would you describe your last year? What proves your existence, what mark you’ve left?

We’re not physicians nor philosopher, to answer it in my way, I think the best possible and practical way is to keep a journal. I do write in Day One time to time, and recently I also started to record short videos of myself describing recent changes in life. Verbalizing is quite different than writing, there’s no time to stop and edit but meaningful pause. It’s a different experience, feels like talking to yourself. “Video journal” never comes to my radar but I wouldn’t be surprised there’re quite amazing services targeting that area.

Oh besides that I’m also keeping an engineer journal. I spend more than 40 hours a week on programming both work and private, that’s a big component of my life. And the “format” of the journal is quite different than personal journal, I split the sections to “Frustrations”, “Questions”, “ReadLater” and “Done”. It gives me a sense of self improvement when I see more and more of my “Dones”, and how I’ve used time struggling and learning stuff.

If you’ve found your answers to “what time is it” and have your way of perceiving time, then lastly how would you spend the time?

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Qihuan Piao

Qihuan Piao

(aka kinopyo) is Chinese based in Tokyo. Software writer. He shares stories inspired him in this blog. His infamous line - "I feel calm when I kill those monsters, or people (in game)" shocks his friends deeply.

He also writes in Japanese and Chinese.