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Making Time An Object

Civilizations and people have turned time into an object, something that is viewed like a resource or a kind of property. Yet, time is something that we feel through how we live. It is built on cycles, or more specifically, the cycles that affect us. These may be largely based in the cosmos, but our bodies have cycles of their own.

Many cultures across the world created calendars to mark cycles and seasons. Aztecs, Mayans, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks and Romans all created calendars (see – Each calendar tracked time in its own way, and many were based on the solar day to night cycle. While these early inventions began an objectification of time, they were based on cycles everyone experienced naturally through sunrises and sunsets, waxing and waning moons, seasons and any other changes observed or experienced through cycles.

Shadow clocks, sundials, water clocks and hourglasses were the earliest devices to mark time in a smaller unit than a day. (see These divided time and allowed people to use it as a smaller measure than a day could provide. Many organize their day with these kinds of devices and businesses use time to think about their production capacity or operational capacity. Some use these devices for measuring athletic performance or scientific experiments to measure as precisely as possible how quickly or slowly certain objects move.

Living with these inventions has objectified time and taken it out of its natural experience with cycles. Now, people are conditioned to look at calendars and clocks to tell them what time is all about instead of living with time more naturally. We lack sensitivity to our natural rhythms, or biorhythms. While biorhythms may seem like an odd notion and perhaps simply a superstitious fad, there has been work done to study some of our natural rhythms, such as sleep cycles. One study documents environmental factors that affect the ability to sleep or wake – Dave Asprey on the Bulletproof blog mentions that investigation into sleep and cancer show 6 to 7 hours are optimal for maintaining good health (as opposed to 8 hours) –

Sleep is just one kind of cycle that is part of our physical existence. Our cells regenerate on cycles. Our hormones operate on cycles. Our digestion follows a cyclical process. So much of our bodily experience connects with natural cycles, and yet we’ve fallen away from this experience. We’ve turned time into an enemy instead of welcoming its wisdom into our lives. Perhaps, as much as we can, we should return to greater awareness of how time affects us in every moment. Whenever possible, perhaps we should put away clocks and calendars and just try to live off schedule and only with our natural senses to tell us when we are ready to do something.

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