Time: Metaphysical and Personal

I read a fascinating reply Ayn Rand made to a question regarding the nature of time, in the book “Ayn Rand Answers”, which isa collection of her extemporaneous remarks during Question and Answer sessions after her lectures or classes. Among her points (from memory since the book is not in front of me) is that time is a tool man uses to measure motion, and is only relevant within the universe. One cannot discuss time outside of (apart from/ “before”) the universe, it is onlya meaningful concept within the universe. This is an approximation of what she said. She (unlike me, perhaps) madeher ideas very clear, even though she was speaking off the cuff.

Ihave at times in my thinking,wondered, if the universe began at a point in time, then what existed before the universe, and how far back does time go?What could the concept “before time began” possibly mean? (The concept “before” depends on the concept of time, so nothing could occur “before time”). Ayn Rand’s idea that time is simply a conceptual tool used to measure motion within the universe helps to answer these questions.

On a more personally relevant level, time management (within each day, and within a lifetime)is a skill that every productive person needs to address (at times). I have achieved many of my difficult goals over the years, yet some are still ongoing projects. What are the time-users (as opposed to the derogatory phrase time-wasters) that make some projects take longer?

In retrospect, in my life the biggest time-users have been family, romance, illness, moving from home to home,and learning/recreation (books/media/arts). In earlier years of my life, my parents, grandparents, etc. would oftenschedule difficult-to-avoid events (on holidays, for example) or need difficult-to-refuse assistance. As I got olderI becameself-sufficient, living on my own,and more able to refuse many of the time-consuming events.

A big time-user before my marriage and children included the seemingly endless search for a soul mate;going out of the house, meeting people,dating, placing and answering personal ads over and over…Even after I met her and dated her, I didn’t realize she was the one until after spending several years apart,during whichI had a chance to formulate exactly what qualities my ideal mateneeded tohave (honesty, a happy outlook–my sense of life–and strong intelligence)and what qualities were not important (almost everything else).If I had been clear about that earlier, I could have saved a lot of time.

Another enormous time-consuming black hole: Living in New York, as my income grew I kept moving from apartment to apartment. I disliked having to live with a roommate, and disliked living inonlythe smallest rooms or the most inconvenient or unattractive neighborhoods, but by moving frequently, and changing jobsfrequently to increase my income,eventually I was able to live in my own apartment, in a nice and convenient neighborhood. Then, when I became the partner of my soul mate, I moved in with her. Then we made the jump from renting to buying a co-op apartment, which doubled in value very quickly, so wefinally sold it and bought a house. All of this moving around makes one feel uprooted, it requires packing and unpacking which take up months before and after each move. It’s not conducive to the completion of long-term projects. But I am happy that I didn’t settle for the unbearable, since the qualities of my home environmentare very important to me. A certain amount of light, space, security, aesthetics do matter.

Finally, before this blog post gets too long (“before?”), once I hit age 40, it seems that finding and seeing doctors and specialists about the endless series of mostly minor health problems that seem to arise after that age is another major time-consumer. I cannot logically avoid it, yet it is very annoying at times. Not to mention the time taken by the ailments themselves.

I hope that your use of time to read my blog or hear my podcast is time that you find enriching and worthwhile, i.e., a good use of your time. (But if not, please don’t waste your time!) Later!

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2 thoughts on “Time: Metaphysical and Personal

  1. Elizabeth

    Yeah Greg! 🙂 Thinking about how time “began” etc… is mind boggling to me. I’ll have to look for the book – Ayn Rand Answers.
    My husband and I were just discussing Aristotle’s Prime Mover the other night. hmmm…
    I still need to download your podcast so I can listen to the whole thing at a time without interruption. The subject sounds interesting!

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