Time: the rhythm of life (Pt 1)

Time may change me… but I can’t trace time.

vale Bowie.
vale Bowie.

Mic Conway of Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band quipped at a gig, that he used to smoke so much dope that Bob Marley had a T-shirt with him on it …. tho’ he doesn’t do drugs anymore. All he has to do is stand up quickly. [Boom boom]

Time is a theme that so many fabulous artists have been intrigued by, and consequently I’m perplexed as to why Bowie used ‘trace’, not ‘chase’ (a running) time. Time takes its toll, but it progresses our aging in untraceable, non-linear fashion. It’s elusive. The 20th century gave us an explanation that time is relative, even if it’s only the mathematicians who understand Einstein’s physics. To the rest of us the clock seems to tick, in a regular manner. We’re just used to time as immutable, and absolute – but it wasn’t always so.

In the strictly agrarian 1500s, time was organic to working the land. Farming is seasonal, and time integral to nature’s prescribed schedule. But from Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton came this era of science, and the calendar & clock became our masters as time ran its own independent “uniform flow, without regard to anything external“. After 1860, the ubiquitous timepiece had changed every factory and even sport thereafter – newer games basketball and football plays are ruled by the clock, whilst baseball and cricket retain their old turn and turn about.

80 years ago, efficiency expert Ivy Lee pitched the idea of the ‘To-do’ list to the chairman of Bethlehem Steel, for which he was gifted then the equivalent of a few hundred thousand dollars in gratitude. When tasks were attached to timelines, schedules were built. My career * is eminent qualification to advise on project scheduling, which is always done badly. The Gantt chart pictured shows activity dependencies setting the deadlines – which are usually printed off or exported to a manager’s spreadsheet.

Open WorkBench : it's free, and a better product than MS Project
Open WorkBench : it’s free, and a better product than MS Project

Wrong! The schedule is dynamic, and target dates must reflect reality of outside influences eg planting crops doesn’t start immediately after ploughing and fertilising tasks complete, but waits until the rains are starting. The software tool tracks this changing environment (if the project manager is savvy) to constantly revise targets. Nobody need pull all-nighters due to circumstances outside their control, in order to meet a deadline. Decisions made under duress never turn out to be the best of choices, and so we impact future wellbeing for the sakes of achieving an arbitrary goal.

Being rather than doing. The book ‘Timepass‘ by Prof Craig Jeffries, newly appointed head of the Australia-India Institute, examines frivolous activity particularly among tertiary educated but unemployed Indian men. Life in limbo is associated with casual sex and transient relationships, bored drinking and killing time. But on the banks of the Ganges where the Buddha first taught, time is deliberately slowed. Varanasi people, writes Nita Kumar, are notorious for their unpunctuality and never care about waiting. But that is not because “…time has no importance for these people. It is rather that time is too important; it cannot be sacrificed for this or that purpose arbitrarily; it has to be lived to the full, every bit of it … There is no hurry, no sense of time slipping or flying by, or rushing by like a stream: there is no such thing as ‘time’. It is not an external that controls you. It is inside you in that it is a way of feeling. The way you feel, what you are moved to do, is what time it is.” … continued->

* Author: Geoff Kirwood is a qualified Project Manager and certified on Project scheduling tools. Nonetheless is flummoxed as to why it took Defence Materiel 14 years after budgetary approval to acquire sunglasses (although they’re called ocular protection systems) for our troops. Time is money, but not in the public service. Einstein proved that Time progresses at differing paces, so blame either relativity or perhaps Army Acquisitions staff were doing too much gunga? Somewhat reflective of our $100m spend on glorious war at villers-bretonneux for the Sir John Monash centre, while ex-service personnel suicides aren’t even registered on the govt radar.

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