A fear of running out of time

“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

I’ve never read this book before, but I wish I had.

I wish I had done many things.. with all the time that I’ve had. All that measurable amount of time that has passed me now. But right now, I wish I could just slap my self – really hard – and hope that change could come as easily, that the pain of change would pain only for a moment and then disappear. And it is incredibly stifling to be using my brain now.

So I had a great dinner today. Accompanied by the sea breeze while taking a post-dinner walk by the coast, I recalled that quote from The Time Keeper and I thought that this could be something to blog about.

Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.

Men alone keep track of minutes, hours, weeks, years. We know what day it is today, what time is it. We know that 7pm in Singapore is when the sun sets, and we know that 6am is when the sun rises. We know when the day begins. We know which month our birthdays fall on. We even know tomorrow – a Tuesday – would probably be spent the same way we have spent every other Tuesday.

Because it’s a Tuesday. There’s definitely lunch.

Time keeping has become a self-destructive mechanism of desperation for order that we creatures of habits have made.. a habit. I’m not going to say that it’s been bad, because it always has it’s uses. And creation and usage is not necessarily always just bad, good, or both; it just is. But for me, I think, time tracking has made me nothing but lazy and stifled.

To know that you have tomorrow to do something that you wish to put off today is just ridiculous. Yes, you know that you have 5 weekdays this week, that’s 5 days meant for ‘work’ to do work. So you have 5 work days – use it as you please. Well, that’s just making you downright lazy. It’s definitely made me incredibly lazy.

Monday is not Tuesday, and Tuesday is obviously not Wednesday because Wednesday comes before Thursday but after Tuesday. So then Friday is obviously also different. Yet every single day, the same sun comes up and comes down.

Perhaps a good use for time keeping that I could think of right now is to know the position of our planet in the solar orbit. But that’s it for me.

Time is a delusional asset that we think we have. It’s used (with misguided belief) so that we can organize our lives and break them down into different segments to be distributed over different days, hours or months. We use it as a tool to manage our need to multitask and do an endless list of tasks that we want and need to do. It might seem as if we’re using time to help us focus on our progress of the tasks at hand while we do a dozen different tasks with the freedom and the lack of commitment to see a task through. Because we always have another time to finish other tasks. We have another Monday next week, and, Oh, let me tell you, it’s different from tomorrow because tomorrow is a Tuesday even though the same sun is going to rise.

Yes, time is important. It lets us know in advance when we can harvest crop. It lets us know when the bus is arriving. It lets us know many important things that could make our lives incredibly convenient. But we are NOT just using it for the many important things in our lives, we are using it for everything.

Imagine the simplicity of our lives without keeping track of time. Let’s say time does not exist.

The sun’s up. You decide to go for a walk, and you meet a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. What’s wrong with getting a drink right at that moment? Nothing’s wrong, of course. So you decide to get a drink. Why wouldn’t you? The only reason you would keep that for the next cycle of the sun is because you don’t feel like it. So saying, ‘it’s not a good time.’ is perhaps just a prettified version of ‘I can’t/don’t want to drink right now’. An excuse.


You have a project to finish. It’s awfully dark, but what’s wrong with carrying on (If time existed, it would be 2AM and DAMN IT, that’s when everyone is asleep)? You have light, you could keep going. Perhaps a valid excuse would be that you’re sleepy. So sleep. Wake up later, whenever, feeling refreshed and continue. There’s nothing wrong with that. The only reason you’d stop would be because you’re lazy. Or because you’re tired and apparently you need to eat to stay alive.

But let’s not think complicatedly for a moment. Let’s not think of schedules and projects and organizations and deadlines and the things we must do. Because a fact of life is that we can get engrossed doing the things we want or love to do. We completely lose track of time; time no longer exists. The only thing that has the right to stop you from doing something is because you feel that it’s bad or you shouldn’t be doing it. If you’re feeling great doing it, and it’s the right thing to do, then even time has no right to stop you.

Keeping track of time – years, minutes, seconds – is not something that most of us need. We don’t need it at all. The fact that we have 7 days a week, or 365 days a year does no good to us. We are simply lying to ourselves. We subconsciously create this belief or hope, as if every year, after 365 days have passed, we are renewed – back to infancy so we could what we wanted to do on this 1st of January, that we couldn’t do the last 1st of January.

Why do we need to fear something that does not truly exist? We think it exists – it’s a system that’s been created and deemed useful and humanity relies on systems. But is this system useful to us, essentially? Is it even helpful that we have another Wednesday next week? Is it good to know that we have another 1st of February (hint) next year? Does this mean that we will still have the exact same self in 365 days from now to do what we didn’t want to do today?

Are we even going to be the same person tomorrow?

There is a reason why God limit Man’s life. I’d like to believe that it is such so that we should never stop to be lazy. And so we created time, just so we can measure how long we can be lazy for.

“When you are measuring life, you are not living it.”
― Mitch AlbomThe Time Keeper