What If Monday – Time

I have been having a difficult time coming up with ideas to write about on this blog, but had an interesting idea last night that I would like to try out. I am going to try to write every Monday about a “What if?” scenario, imaginatively named What If Monday.

Driving home alone at 11:30 last night from my hockey game, not only alone in my car but seemingly on the road as well, I started to think about things. I looked down at the clock on my car’s dashboard and thought back a few hours to when I was rushing to my game. Not that rushing from place to place is unusual for me, and I doubt it is unusual for you.  It often feels like I’m always trying to get somewhere else, with a clock in every room reminding me how late I am.

This leads me to today’s What if: What if the clock was never invented? Even, further, what if in addition to not marking time, what if we didn’t keep track of months and years?  Sure we would notice the passage of “days” and we would notice the change in seasons in most parts of the world.  Surely, we would still notice the changes in the moon from night to night.  Would we be happier?  Would there be less stress in the world? Never late for work, no birthdays, no set time to wake in the morning, no set time to go to sleep.  Would things be better?

Is there something biologically inherent in humans that compels us to keep time? According to Wikipedia, the origin of our current system goes back all the way to 2000 B.C.  There was something that compelled us to keep track of time even in those “simpler” times.

Feel free to leave you thoughts in the comments here or even on your own blog.  Maybe this will even spark someone to write some fiction.

14 thoughts on “What If Monday – Time

  1. This was an awesome post.
    I had never thought of this. I think life would definitely be slower, and perhaps everyone would be happier.
    I would definitely enjoy it!

  2. What if instead of everybody relaxing more because their were no time constraints, what if we were all that much more frantic because there was no way to really decide WHEN things needed to get done. So, everything would feel critical all the time. We would never say, I’ll take care of that in a few minutes right after I take this little nap. Everything would just be in a big bucket of things that need done.

  3. I cannot even begin to tell you how to unprogram myself from not thinking about time. It’s a hard concept to wrap my little tiny brain around. So, let me try.

    Everything is governed by time. People, money…I’m not exactly sure if there would be less stress in the world. I highly doubt it. We would just be left to quibble about something else.

  4. Well, I expect we’d always find a way of measuring time. But if everyone decided to stop worrying so much about getting to places at the exact right time I think there’d be a lot less stress in the world. (And I may try and use that for an excuse next time I am late!)

  5. Leo, I’m glad you liked this post. I thought I’d try something different (and I liked the weekly feel of your weekend memory posts.

    MIke – you could very well be correct. It seems like it is also human nature to be stresses about something.

    Paperback Writer – I’m glad you enjoyed this one. It was hard for me to write the post without thinking about time. You are right that everything is based on time. I also think we would find something to worry about in time’s place.

  6. A professor of communications once told me that after his heart attack his doctor told him to get a regular watch, told him to throw his digital one away. He said the digital watch made him think of time in ways that were too specific, too descrete. He was convinced that a looser relationship to the clock would improve his health. I didn’t know him long enough to see the effect, if any, but I always wondered.

    I think that society and economy are too intertwined with our current notions of time to get shut of most of the bad parts without significant losses of the good. For example, there is the fact that the intercontinental railroad necessitated the creation of time zones and a nationally-agreed-upon notion of what time it was. Air travel makes this even more necessary, on a worldwide scale. And then there is the internet, or even microchips themselves, with their internal clock-drives.

    Despite all of that, though, I think that the subject is fertile ground for fiction.

  7. I never have enough of it. And I never utilize what I have. Getting rid of it would definitely make me happy.

    (Mark Z. Danielewski’s new novel is a novel that is, for the most part, a love story that involves two lovers traveling in time. I just started reading it. He is one of the best “new authors” in print today. His first book was called House of Leaves. Brilliant.


  8. S William Shaw – I agree that we would count something. There is no way we could not notice the passage of time.

    caveblogem – that is very interesting about your professor and it seems a pretty unconventional bit of advice from his doctor. I agree that we could never get away from keeping time now, but what we never started?

    Lee Friend – that is a nice suggestion and I do this to a point on the weekends, though it is harder to get free time with a baby 🙂

    Blainchowder – thanks for the link. I’m always interested in time travel stories.

  9. I like your idea of “What If Monday”. I used to do lots of “what if…” activities with my students when I was teaching English. I had one lesson on “What if the microchip had never been invented?” We had some fun with that one.

    I agree with the others that we would have found some other way of measuring time if the clock hadn’t been invented. Maybe we’d be lugging sundials around with us?! I’m sure I’d still be trying to cram 10 tasks into every minute.

  10. A good question. Along those same lines I’ve wondered what people did before paper was readily available. I think about all the times I jot things down to remember that people used to have to remember. Their memories must have been much better, and their biological clocks. Or maybe it was all about getting up with the rooster’s crow.

  11. Helen,
    That does sound like a good idea for an English class. Since this idea has been so popular, I’m going to continue doing this.

    Michelle, before paper I guess people wrote down things on cave walls, which is definitely less portable than paper 🙂

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