Time and the New Year

If you’re like me, you live most of your life with an acute awareness of time. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months organize appointments, deadlines, and opportunities for routines like sharing meals or engaging in spiritual practice. Everything is governed by time.

Or is it?

We know that time is a relative concept. Organizing the rotation of the Earth into 24 equal periods, while brilliant, was also an arbitrary decision. The duration of a day on Earth is not the same as on Venus, Mars or any other planet. The same is true for the duration of a year. It’s just how we organize the movements of our planet. Indeed, time, as an applied concept, is relative to our planet.

Physics considers time differently from ordinary experience. Time is generally understood as a relationship between events, i.e., this event happened before that event. That said, Einstein’s work helped us to understand that both speed and gravity impact the pace at which time passes, leading to a slowing or quickening of time. Early in the 20th Century, McTaggart suggested that time is essentially an illusion: that things exist only in the present. It’s our perception that creates a past.

Okay…..before you think I’ve lost all grasp of reality, what’s the point I am trying to make?

Across the globe, people celebrate the beginning of a new year. We make resolutions and plans for the future. We set out goals and envision how this year will be different from the past. We start the new year looking forward with a sense that, “this time, things will be different!”

But the marking of time is a social convention. The years, the months, the days, the hours, and the minutes are just ideas we share to make some sense out of life. And there we have it! Yes, this thing called “time” is all about making sense out of our lives.

Perhaps the changing of the calendar is an opportunity to consider this: how is it that you make sense of your life? The events that have occurred in your past have brought you to this point. What do they mean for you? What do they mean for what comes next?

Since time isn’t objectively real but is just a social construct we accept, that means we have the freedom to decide how to approach what comes next for us. What would be meaningful for you? What would be fulfilling? What would stir your passion for living into the future?

Time: it’s a relative concept. That means you can choose to make of it what you will. From that perspective, choosing to make time mean something of value may be the best gift you can give yourself.

© 2012, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to Time and the New Year

  1. Pat Bergen says:

    Just what I needed to hear! “TIME” to get busy!

  2. Lou says:


    Perhaps no so much about “getting busy” as using time to benefit our growth and wholeness.

    Best wishes for the New Year!


  3. Brian Holley says:

    Eckhart Tolle was right on when he spoke of the Power of Now, don’t you think? The past is only memory, the future imagination. Only Now is reality, and even that can only be a partial experience. Even so, it’s the best I can do and it’s the place where I’m in contact with eternity.

  4. Lou says:

    Thanks for the comment.
    Interestingly, the right hemisphere of the brain is focused on the here and now, without a time reference. The left hemisphere is focused on past and future. When we engage in meditation, the activity is primarily in the right hemisphere. There is some neurological basis for the experience of time, but we can also transcend it.

  5. Dawid says:

    Yes! Willa Cather’s Song and also the New Mexico desert lacdsnapes of Georgia O’Keeffe. There is an important contrast between Georgia’s flower paintings, which are lush, sensual and even erotic, and her striking and sobering desert art. Both are beautiful. Both are true. Both reflect the complexity of outer and inner lacdsnapes in composing an honest geography of life.

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