Life is like a ticking time bomb that keeps on pushing us to achieve our goals before our time ends. It makes us compete with one another. We all run after something, be it money, peace, success, happiness, identity or materialistic stuff. All these elements keep coming and going but time is one thing that never comes back. We may get missed opportunities again, but time will not be the same.
We associate time with everything from how long a child would be in a womb to how long would a human live. We have standardized almost everything with time, mainly for our convenience and to have less chaos on the planet. But, during the process of solving this issue, haven’t we lost the art of enjoying our existence? Aren’t we all under the social construct of time pressure?
There are deadlines for everything – a kid going to school and moving up levels according to his age even if he is not competent for that level. There are exams to pass, to move higher and then the struggles due to lack of competency as those exams were cleared either with teachers’ help or through some tricks. Once that kid grows up to start earning money, the parents would immediately start telling him that he is now ready to get married even though he doesn’t feel the same. Then there is a retiring age for people turning old even if they are efficient and don’t want to retire.
We negate the possibility of one’s ability through time. Everything becomes bound in hours, months and years. The social stigma around failure makes us focus on results rather than learning. Because of that, the end product suffers and flows like a virus back into the system to infect the already infected system.
There’s one particular incident that made me reflect about time and its impact on our lives. In the school where I work, I have observed that teachers and students are always late. There is no sense of punctuality among them. If a teacher sometimes come on time and see children coming late, they would start giving them a lecture on timeliness. Students have gotten so used to it that they don’t take it seriously, specially because of the irregularity of teachers themselves. When teachers are questioned, they say they get late because they don’t get any transport to come and that children are anyway late.
One day, while waiting for them I was thinking what could be the root cause of everyone coming late. The obvious answer was that children don’t see a value in reaching school on time and they may think what’s the use if teachers are not present. But instead of assuming the obvious, I tried to identify the reasons I may have been unable to see.
After talking at length with students of class 8th and 9th, some interesting information came out. The first thing was that children come from as far as 7 km for which they take at least 70 minutes to reach. Secondly, only 10 out of 46 kids know how many hours are there in a day and out of them only 4 know how to watch time on a clock but no one has a clock. 6 children have individual mobile phones but only 3 of them use it to check time.
To which, I further asked how do you come to school when you can’t check time. The replies were, “When we see the white bus go, we leave”, “When the nearby teacher leaves, we leave”, “When we see other students leave, we leave”, “When we see suitable sunlight, then we leave”.
Here, the instrument they use is based on others’ judgement of time. I have also seen other people in the community not being concerned about time at all. They sit and sleep under a tree for hours and hours without doing anything. They go to the river and bath for several hours. They stay awake at night during a festival and sleep during the day.
It’s clear that they live in the moment and are visibly happy to not work under time pressure or constraint.