What Is Time?

What is time?


It seems like such a simple question, right? Everyone knows time is about how we measure seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries, etc.

But is it really that simple? Consider this: if you put your hand on a hot stove, time seems to past quickly so you want to remove it as soon as possible. But if you are watching a great movie, you lose track of time and a hour may seem only minutes. In this way, one might ay time is sharped by the one experiencing it. But that doesn’t quite seem right when one thinks about it more–thirty minutes is thirty minutes whether you are on earth or the moon.

Time does seem to pass, right? We measure it by past, present and future. But when it is precisely the present–with he first word of this sentence or midway through or now? Every time I seek the present it is already past.

So maybe time is an illusion and we use it as a custom to shape our days.
But if time is an illusion, how else do we account for change, in ourselves and others? Are we the same people we were twenty years ago? And what is really constant about each one of us?

There are two Greek words that have helped me trying to understand time. Chronos is the Greek word for clock time, for the human creation for thinking we have measured its passing. It’s what most of us mean when we talk about time. But there’s another Greek word for time, Kairos,, and roughly it means those moments in time when something important seemed to happen. Kairos time is more about quality than quantity, more about great moments in time and not its passing.

How you spend time is how you measure the chapters in your life. That’s chromos. But being awake to those special moments in your life which take on depth and meaning is being tuned in to Kairos. Kairos moments are few, but when they happen, one stores them deep within to be recalled later. Kairos moments are transforming, whether they are terrifying or inspiring. How we remember them is how we measure our times beyond clocks.

So when are the Kairos moments in your life and how have you been transformed?

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Filed under John C. Morgan, Time

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