23 October 2017, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Catherine is part of the professional writing and editing course at RMIT. This was a speechwriting exercise for end of year presentation. One of the supervisors sent it to Speakola as an outstanding piece. .
There’s no time like the present.
There is no time like the present because now is all we have. So if you want to change, NOW is the time.
As Aristotle said, ‘now does not coexist with any other moment. It does not even inhabit itself, but annuls itself the moment it comes to be.’
In other words, time is a succession of nows.
But even the word succession is problematic because it implies that one moment follows another in a line, a temporal line.
The passing of time, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour is merely a convention. It is based on an economic imperative that declares: ‘There is no time to waste because time is money.’
And time is money; but only if we buy into the current economic theory that drives our society. In economics speak, time decay even has a formula:
“Time decay is the ratio of change in an option’s price to the decrease in time to expiration.”
No wonder we are driven: everything we love and value – including ourselves – is supposedly losing value over time.
The word success is even a measure of time? Since the word success originates from the Latin word succedere – to come close after.
One thing leads to another. A single rain drop on the window is not capable of sustaining itself apart from the rain.
But, by this definition, we are all harnessed to time and on and on the treadmill turns.
The renowned economic theorist John Maynard Keynes wrote in the 1930s
‘that in future people would have more leisure time because of mechanisation and compound interest’.
But where is this extra time? It is illusory – based on projections from the past to future and bypassing the present, a mechanism that doesn’t bring us joy or make us more productive.
We use phrases like: 'time poor', 'time is not my own' and 'stealing time' because we believe that time is a scarce commodity and moments need to be stolen in order to preserve some of it for ourselves.
We relate to the character of the White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland when he runs past saying: “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late” .
But paradoxically, when Alice asks the White Rabbit:“How long is forever?” He replies: “Sometimes just one second.”
So take a second and save your life.
It would be truly tragic if, in reality, we were simply propelled from what was to what will be with nothing in between.
But this time-poor existence is a choice.
So why are we choosing to live apart from the one place we naturally abide – the here and now. What T.S Elliot called ‘The still point of a turning world’.
If we lived on the constant point of creation, ‘in my beginning is my end’ we would view life’s vicissitudes with equanimity.
We wouldn’t be crippled by fear and far from being unproductive, we would always be on the cusp of discovery.
Rumi, the 13th century Sunni poet wrote:
‘You were born with wings why prefer to crawl through life?’
Telling people to strive for an indefinite future is robbing them of their inheritance.
Everything we need is here now.
There is time enough in one grain of sand in the hourglass.
When are we intending to marvel at the majesty of a swooping bird or the brilliance of the sunset?
Tomorrow or next week?
Oh, but there isn’t time. Tempus Fugit. Time Flies.
Another writer who used the conundrum of time in his writings was Oscar Wilde. ‘If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.’
Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War Two, unravels time and refashions it into a pattern that will bring comfort to the people of England during this the darkest hours of the war.
“Now this is not the end.
It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps,
the end of the beginning.”
Rather than being indefinitely afraid, the people of England now had a space in which to breath and go about their daily lives. The only thing that had changed was their concept of time.
I would like to leave you with the words of another renowned philosopher, Pooh Bear:
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favourite day,” said Pooh.