The title is so apt for what I wanted to talk, i could not resist including the famous picture from the Oct 10, 2011 edition of Newsweek. No, I am not talking about the Afghan war. But I am sharing the ideology shared by the Afghans which they famously told the Americans, who were in a hurry to achieve their objective: “You have the watches, we have the time.”

I recently read the book by Mitch Albom, titled Timekeeper. The book if a fable and some of the messages from the book were extremely moving and thought provoking. Important enough for me to write an article on the same.

You have the watches, we have the time 2

The book really makes you think how its ‘Time” more than anything else, that dictates our day to day life. Time was invented just for humans to be able to identify different periods of the day, month and year. But it has gone on to influence our lives to the extent we are like at Time’s mercy.

We use so many phrases with associated with TIME. Pass time. Waste time. Kill time. Lose time. In good time. About time. Take your time. Save time. A long time. Right on time. Out of time. Mind the time. Be on time. Spare time. Keep time. Stall for time. There are as many expressions with “time” as there are minutes in a day. But once, there was no word for it at all. Because no one was counting. Then the clock was invented. And everything changed.

Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.

You must be wondering how true is this and felling happy that everyone around you, almost everyone, is also in the same kind of quandary. Only that, its not so. All around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralysing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.

You have the watches, we have the time 3
We are so hard pressed for time, all the time that we forget that worrying about time, also leads to wasting time! We all yearn for what we have lost, and in the process, we forget what we have.

There is a constant quest amongst us for more minutes, more hours, faster progress to accomplish more in each day. The simple joy of living is gone.

The reason I was reminded of the Afghan quote is because it is a perfect representation of life as we are living today. In the corporate world, where investors are chasing the company on performance, management is leading a QSQT (Quarter Se Quarter Tak) life, just chasing and trying to make the numbers all the time. There is very little ‘time’ to sit back, relax and enjoy one’s work.

In personal life, we are all so challenged and influenced by our neighbour peers and what they are into, that we are constantly chasing a moving target in order to live a better life, buy a bigger house, drive a fancier car, go for a lavish vacation, throw a even more grand party, etc. We are just not wanting to sit back, relax and enjoy what we are doing. Yeah, maybe in our 60s, we will and we are doing it. But it might be a bit too late by then. Maybe we do it then, as there is very little energy left to ‘do more’ then, anyways.

Everything man does today to be efficient, to fill the hour. It does not satisfy. It only makes him hungry to do more. Man wants to own his existence. But no one owns time. When you are measuring life, you are not living it.

I feel it might be a good idea, sometimes, to just stop the clock/watch and any timekeeping device you. While instinctively, we may still have a measure of the time elapsed, it will not be ‘top of our mind’. I am sure it would take the pressure off you for a while and we might be able to improve the quality of work that we are doing. While many might equate this to mindfulness, I would just say this is being ‘conscious’/aware of life/things around you and appreciate the moment, the gift of life and joy of living timelessly. Try IT!

You have the watches, we have the time 4

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Hetal Sonpal

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