Time being relative to so many things
Authored by: Monica  

Time is not an absolute entity! It is open to interpretation based on the cultural background of an individual. It is open to interpretation if you were to connect it with the concept of life and it is also open to interpretation in so many other different ways. Depending on the country where you come from, time can also take on different dimensions altogether. A while back, we talked about how the Japanese value time and even about the Swiss and the way they get everything to function in impeccable precision. There are so many other beings and countries that dwell on the opposite side of the spectrum!

Many Asian cultures believe that good things should not be hurried. Of course, this is not a sweeping statement meant for every individual and every country in Asia but by and large you will find that there is a sense of relaxation when it comes to the necessity of doing things at a particular time. Very rarely will an individual go berserk simply because he or she is late for an appointment! In Africa as well, time is considered to be rather elastic. To the extent that the year 2007 actually saw a campaign launched by Laurent Gbagbo, ex-President of Cote d’Ivoire. This campaign sought to infuse punctuality into this country and was titled “African time is killing Africa, let us fight it”. How interesting is that!


In Europe and quite a large portion of the Western world, appointments can be made even several weeks in advance. A country like Germany for instance has even been called ‘pathologically punctual’. There is also the job interesting story about philosopher Immanuel Kant who lived every day of his life according to a very strict timetable. Most Germans believe that it is their duty to be early by a few minutes rather than even 1 minute late. Italians are also rather easy-going when it comes to being on time but again, none of these are sweeping statements that can cover every German, Asian and Italian in the world!

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You may ask me then, is not life meant to be slightly flexible? Is everyone supposed to watch the clock diligently and always be on time for everything? There is no denying that today’s world is fast paced. So perhaps when a meeting has been scheduled for a particular time then it simply means that being tardy about it may see you missing an opportunity to achieve something. People move on rather quickly these days. Whereas, may be in the ‘olden days’ people were more forgiving about running late for something or the other. I have to stop and wonder here whether the need to run to be on time is causing a whole lot of stress in today’s life? Is it even bringing down our quality of life and life expectancy?


Well, animals do not seem to have the problem because their lifespans, if allowed to run its natural course seem to work according to a calendar! Insects such as mayflies and marine animals known as gastrotrich live for just a few days. But in that lifespan, they have achieved what nature intended them to – reproduction and then some more reproduction. This kind of lifespan would not even make a speck of a difference to something like the Bowhead whale or the Galapagos tortoise which can go up to 200 years and 170 years respectively. And if you were a Turritopsis dohrnii then you perhaps could live forever because you would be known as an immortal jellyfish. It actually is denoted as being biologically immortal. So in 1,000,000 years from now, this aquatic creature will still be around.


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It is not just the world of animals that see such immense lifespans. Bristlecone pine trees can touch the 5000 year mark. Then there are the giant sequoias as well. There are even individual trees all over the world that have been dated and range anywhere from 1000 years to 6,800 years. What changes and lives they must have seen! Now, if only we could find a way of listening to them really closely. From talking about cultural relativity of time to the world of animals and plants, it has not taken us too long to traverse this journey! Like I said at the beginning, time is really not an absolute entity!

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