OPINION

Think of time as your guide, not your enemy

HEARTBEAT: If you don't want to feel the same way on your next birthday, do something about it now. Picture: Shutterstock
HEARTBEAT: If you don't want to feel the same way on your next birthday, do something about it now. Picture: Shutterstock

Time is precious. We spend our childhoods wishing time would go faster - counting sleeps to birthdays and wishing our youth away to reach the mysterious (illusion of) autonomy that is adulthood.

Then we spend our adulthood trying to stop time, to slow it down, to make the most of it, fight it, delay it and, eventually, we succumb to it.

Everything we do is wrapped around this concept. Our lives are marked by time with a silent metronome ticking in the background of our days, weeks and years.

Our very physical, educational, cultural and societal norms are shaped by the metaphorical swing of a metronome marker.

We are expected to walk by a certain age, speak, read, multiply, divide by a certain age.

We are supposed to know what we want to do for a job by the time school is finished, which incidentally, is also marked by time and not progress, and we are expected to progress in our careers along a pre-determined time-schedule.

We have standards of "full-time work" defined by time and our wages are tied inextricably to this: some time is worth more than other time with "normal time" being paid differently to "time and a half" and "double time" or "overtime".

Shops all tend to open at the same time and close at the same time, and we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner within time-based windows.

Our very bodies are synced to get sleepy as the night goes on governed by our "body clocks," and we have "biological clocks" that we talk about when it comes to our bodies' reproductive functions.

Time. Governs. All. And there is never enough of it.

We watch it tick by, we use it wisely, we waste it, it's a commodity we "spend", it's something we can't get back and something we can regret.

We profess to have skills in managing it, we use programs to coordinate it, and we develop timelines to plan it.

In his PhD, physicist Dr Stephen Hawking theorised that there was a beginning of time - a point at which the universe banged into life.

This theory supported the idea it was created and thus needed a creator: the concept of time, therefore is linked to the very existence of God.

As Dr Hawking continued his research and disproved his own theories and reshaped them, the existence (or lack thereof) of God seemed to hang in the balance. Time, it seems, even governs our spirituality.

We have a such a short time on this earth and our lives are mapped out by time markers.

Some of these milestones are birthdays like our 18th - the time when we can legally drink alcohol - and 21st, the time when we are legally considered fully-fledged adults.

We also celebrate the beginning of new decades as an arbitrary celebration of the survival of another 10 years.

Other milestones include school graduation, TAFE or university graduation, new jobs, marriage, babies, retirement - all of which is on an expected schedule.

Is it any wonder that when something happens that wasn't part of the plan, we feel lost and thrown off centre?

If we discover at age 35 that we don't actually want to be an electrician anymore, we want to be a schoolteacher, or if we find our marriage ending, or we don't get that promotion, it can sometimes feel like we wasted our time - like it could have been better spent or like we've lost our way.

It can even feel like we are trapped on a linear path that we cannot get off despite our growing desire to abandon it, for fear of having to start all over again.

For all the hypothesising about non-linear time and the (in)ability to time travel, the fact remains that we do indeed have a finite amount of time earth-side.

The best time to go to school, to begin a career, to find love may have been 10 years ago.

But the second-best time is now.

The truth is time isn't our enemy, it's our guide.

The beat of the metaphorical time-metronome is the heartbeat of our lives; there to remind us that time will pass no matter what we do.

So the question is, do you want to feel like you do now on your next birthday?

If not, do something to change it.

After all, the one thing we know for absolute certain is: time is now.

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocate at impressability.com.au