“I Don’t Believe in Time.” -Hootie

IMG_0719Family in White and Denim

In Dad’s first Honda Odyssey, the most played “album” (maybe it was a cassette, possibly a CD) was hands down Cracked Rear View (1994) by Hootie and the Blowfish. Most played song: “Time.” In it, Hootie talks about time, talks to time, denounces time, defriends time, and repeats the word time, well, a lot of times.

Time, why you punish me?
Like a wave crashing into the shore
You wash away my dreams
Time, why you walk away?
Like a friend with somewhere to go
You left me crying

Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow, running free?
Cause tomorrow’s just another day
And I don’t believe in time

Time, I don’t understand
Children killing in the street
Dying for the color of a rag
Time, take their red and blue
Wash them in the ocean, make them clean
Maybe their mothers won’t cry tonight

 …

Can you teach me about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow, running free?
Cause tomorrow’s just another day
And I don’t believe in time

(Time, time, time, time) You ain’t no friend of mine
(Time, time) I don’t know where I’m goin’
(Time, time) I think I’m out of my mind
(Time) Walkin’, (Time) wasted
(Time, time) You ain’t no friend of mine
(Time, time) I don’t know where I’m goin’
(Time, time) No, no no no

 

And as many millions of times as I have heard that song and even sung along to it, it wasn’t until just now on http://www.lyricsfreak.com that I thought about the message Hootie is trying to tell us (I think). He’s filing a complaint to time. Why does it vanish so quickly? Where does it go? And if you can’t beat it, then just don’t believe in it. Horrid cliches aside, Hootie speaks for many of us. Where does the time go? Grabbing it, trying to hold it and keep it is a futile, winless task.

But then he sort of loses me at “I don’t believe in time.” After all, our lives are largely dictated by time. We want to save it, not waste it, maximize it, enjoy it, get paid for it, pay for it, count it, check it, stare at it in disbelief. So when I imagine riding in the Odyssey #1, windows down, cruising on Loch Raven Boulevard, waiting for “the heat to work,” and singing like a hopeless trio, I know time was not actually on my mind. I was just giving back to Hootie what he was giving us. “Time, why you wallga-wayyy?”

I remember my parents when I was little talking about how time went by so fast and I recall disagreeing. I felt like they must have never been to school before because time just crawled in school. How could they possibly believe time moved slowly? Outside of Christmas Break and Summertime, life was creeping by at a snail’s pace. And then I hit about 13 years old (which can only be about five years ago, right?). Everything seemed to speed up at that point. Was it being more aware of the world? Less involved with myself so I became occupied looking at and observing others? Was it because I discovered boys? Hormones? My menarche (I dedicate that word to Erin Drew)? Whatever happened, it’s flown by ever since.

As an adult, I love observing and comparing others’ perceptions of time on a small scale. It’s amazing what others think they will or will not have time for–it’s amazing what I have the audacity to think I will have time for. Some people “don’t have time for all the magazines that come to the house,” while Stacey always says, “I love a good glossy” and on top of an active social and work life, tears through her shiny-covered monthlies. Some people can’t squeeze in working out, while for others, who could be even more “involved,” working out is a mandatory part of life.

What it comes down to is that time is relative.

For example, my friend Jimmy Markakis (no relation to Nick Markakis) sleeps about four hours per night, works more than full time, is heavily involved in Greek things and techy clubs and groups, travels constantly, owns a 3D printer, and then pursues multiple advanced degrees all at once. Now, he’s a bit extreme. But for some, even just one of his lifestyle choices would be too much.

I imagine we’ve all got a little clock inside of us that dictates what we believe we have time for. I am definitely closer to Jimmy on the spectrum but it took me about 30 years to realize that even I have limits (Jimmy still doesn’t).

Chas has been asking me for years to read The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd, and for years I have tried and then fallen asleep. Luckily, Zimbardo and Boyd have distilled these ideas to three paradoxes.

“The Time Paradox is not a single paradox but a series of paradoxes that shape our lives and our destinies. For example:

Paradox 1
Time is one of the most powerful influences on our thoughts, feelings, and actions, yet we are usually totally unaware of the effect of time in our lives.”

This is a little above my level but I think he’s saying we think about time constantly, we feel it, and we act based on it but really, we can’t see how it affects us in large-scale ways.

“Paradox 2
Each specific attitude toward time—or time perspective—is associated with numerous benefits, yet in excess each is associated with even greater costs.”

Find a balance between appreciating the past, relishing in the present, and planning for the future. Living only in the past is depressing. Living only in the present is reckless. Living only for the future makes you miss out on what’s happening now.

“Paradox 3
Individual attitudes toward time are learned through personal experience, yet collectively attitudes toward time influence national destinies.”

Your experiences greatly affect your time perspective. But collectively, the society you live in gathers up the perspectives of its people and that effect is great enough to determine a country’s fate.

On the website for the book, you can also take a Time Perspective Inventory to determine how you perceive time.

For transparency’s sake, my time perspective results are here:

Past-negative: 2.60
Past-positive: 4.22 (a little on the high end)
Present-fatalistic: 1.89
Present-hedonistic: 3.73 (close to balanced)
Future: 3.69 (perfectly balanced)

Eastern cultures and Western cultures view time differently and it’s found that even countries that share a border do not share their perceptions of time. The US and Mexico differ greatly. And the US is to Mexico as Switzerland is to Italy. According to Business Insider, “Thais do not evaluate the passing of time in the same way that the Japanese do. In Britain the future stretches out in front of you. In Madagascar it flows into the back of your head from behind.”

We all know that in the US, time is money. On a good day, I can get $80 an hour for tutoring. Our time/money value is reinforced whenever I am outside of the US. In Morocco, artisans spend hours and eardrums on beautiful pieces and then pass them off for mere dollars. As I’ve mentioned before, when I needed to see a doctor in Marrakech, I was able to do so within 8 minutes of arriving in a clinic and for $30. So is our way the right one? Yes and no. Time is relative. The only answer is to savor it, enjoy it, and to know, deep in your heart, that it is also completely finite.

6 thoughts on ““I Don’t Believe in Time.” -Hootie

  1. HOOTIE! Don’t know which song we sang along with (poorly and loudly for me anyway) the most – “Time” or “Taxi” (Harry Chapin). The latter is also about time, it’s passing anyway, and how two people grew apart. And what about “Belly Button Window” (Jimi Hendrix, the best message song that never got popular [“You only got 200 days”]) or “Stormy Monday” (T-Bone Walker, best covered by the Allman Brothers [pick your own day of the week]). Or…
    Damn, you did it again Amanda – making me think early on a Friday morning before I’ve even finished my coffee. While waiting for my head to explode let me give you a little about my idea of time.
    Time is a series of jumps toward the next event whether that event be making the bed or welcoming a newly born grandchild. It goes too fast when the event is perceived as bad or difficult and too slow when the event is fun or positive. Between events I try not to think about time at all because it’s likely that I’m closer to the end than the beginning of my time. KABLOOIE! “Thanks a lot Amanda” I say as my next even is picking up the pieces of my head…
    LOL, D

    Liked by 1 person

    • DAD! You are ridiculous. You know you have to drink the coffee…then you do the things.

      I think you mixed up what goes too fast or too slow…

      Nevertheless, sorry about your brain.

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      • I did NOT get it wrong (thanks AuberDauber)! Have you forgotten “I may not always be right but I’m never wrong”? (James E. Doran RIP; and adopted/earned by his #1 son). Have you forgotten that exam you dreaded? You started writing way before you wanted to. Probably Math for both of us. Or how long it took for graduation day to arrive?
        LOL, D

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  2. “The days are long but the years are short.” Heard that from a wise man and it really stuck with me. Also I agree with dad about waiting for the next event. Depends on if I am looking forward to it or dreading it or somewhere in between!

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  3. I am 2 months and 9 days late to comment on this blog of May 18, 2018. Looking back at what was happening in my little corner of the world at that “time”, it is easy to see why.
    I love time! Calendars, clocks, watches, the sun rise, sun set, the moon, solstices, equinoxes. One of my biggest fears is to waste time because it is so precious and offers us so much. During the school year, every minute is scheduled and planned. When summer arrives at the end of June, it takes me a while to get used to making choices about what is the best use of my unscheduled minutes and hours. It’s a privilege! By the time I get used to it, It will be the end of August and time for the tight schedule again. 🙂
    I ordered a book about time called “When”, but haven’t taken the time to read it yet. Also I want to read Time Wars by Jeremy Rifkin. The Time Paradox sounds good, too, I better get busy reading! Thanks!
    Love,
    Mom

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