Time is not of the essence

Illustration by Ed Appleby

The value of hesitation

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

“Time is an abstract concept, created by carbon-based life forms to monitor their ongoing decay.” — Thundercleese, a militant killbot

We’re all guilty of being late at one point or another. Sometimes it’s just being five minutes late to class; sometimes it’s submitting a paper that was due a couple hours ago. In our society, time is extremely important. Literally everything we do revolves around a timed schedule, and the clock is always ticking. If the bus is supposed to leave at five, and it doesn’t leave until 5:12, it can ruin someone’s day.

But why is precise time such an important factor in our daily lives? Not very long ago—before watches or cell phones—precise timing was a lot less important. Time was measured by the light in the sky and was worked out between interacting parties who needed it. Even today, in some countries, time is considered flexible. Agreeing to meet someone around noon could very well have them five, 10, or 20 minutes late, and it’s not a big deal. This seems to work well for the locals, although it may frustrate visitors in the area. Why is time so important to our contemporary western society?

Obviously, being severely late isn’t good for anyone. It keeps others waiting and it cuts into the time spent on the task. But far too often, rushing to make appointments leaves one tired, stressed, and pressured. How many times have you run to get to school or work so you could start on time, instead of being three or four minutes late? Inflexible policies are harmful to everyone. It suggests that saving five minutes is more important than getting somewhere effectively, stress-free, and even perhaps safely.

It’s a cliché, but we often forget to stop and smell the roses. Especially true for students, we’re constantly bombarded by schedules, commitments, and work. Although time management is important, shaving everything down to the minute can sometimes do more harm than good, especially for extra-motivated people.

Give the benefit of the doubt next time you’re in a situation where someone is late. If possible, don’t let yourself be bothered when you get somewhere slightly later than intended. The day will go on like it always does, and all you can do is use your remaining time the best you can.

Bill Watterson’s character, Calvin, once said: “We’re so busy watching out for what’s ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” A six-year-old boy whose best friend is a stuffed tiger knows what’s up—why don’t we?