Time is incredibly important in life.
If life operates upon the principles of music, as Alan Watts suggests, then time is like a dance to that music. Although each person is unique in how they dance and how they perceive rhythm, there exists common patterns between people living in the same place and culture.
Time is something we wear; it’s something we act out. It’s always with us until we are not us anymore because the ol’ Fates have stopped by to end our hours.
In an interview with e-flux, the writer Hakim Bey reminisces about the:
Weird situation in the 1960s and ’70s in which part of the world still ran at the speed of camels. And if you could get to those parts of the world and experience it, then you could experience that kind of time. I’m not sure it still exists, though I hope it does. I think it’s very important, just as it’s important to have rainforests and things like that. There should be parts of the world where other kinds of time can be experienced.
The kind of time you experience in the central hub of an ever-busy urban behemoth with heaps upon heaps of cars, bikes, and pollution is far different from the kind of time you experience in some forgotten desert where you can discern the different types of wind.
I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I am saying that the ability to experience both kinds of time is better than only knowing one.
Just as we have Euro-centrism and Cogni-centrism, we might use the word Tempero-centrism (or something less awkward) to describe the bias that certain kinds of time are inherently superior to other kinds of time.
The Art of Time Miming
A traveler from a culture and place far different that the USA could get a pretty good feel for the culture by chucking on some clothes at 7AM before speeding off to a fast-food joint, shouting words at a talking box that takes your order and then scarfing down an egg sandwich with some iced coffee.
Likewise a traveler from the USA accustomed to that structure of time might get a pretty good feel for Laotian culture by waking at 4 AM and giving alms to monks.
Time Miming has two parts: observation and participation.
Observation is all about questions:
When do most people get up?
When do most people fall asleep?
What time of day is the most energetic? Most mellow?
How do people keep track of time? Is keeping track of time even important?
Do they rule time or does time rule them? How important is punctuality?
Participation is all about altering your behavior to reflect the answers to those questions.
Wake up at the same; fall asleep at the same time; take a nap when everyone does. Eat in a similar manner and for the same amount of time. Walk at the same pace. Change the cadence of your speech even if you don’t speak the language.
Mimic the predominant time schedule of whatever place you’re in.
When we change time zones, maybe it’s time to get in the zone. Many of us change time zones yet remain within the zone of the time we just left. How do we get inside the time-zone of a new place?
By learning the subtle art of Time Miming. Be a Time Mime.