WHEN DID “TIME” BEGIN?

Fandango’s Provocative Question #178

When did time actually begin?

I have a secondary question: are you asking when “keeping time” began or when “dealing with time” began? Long before we had sundials or clocks, time was always part of our world. There was a time to sow crops and to harvest. Everyone recognized when days would start getting longer. Long, long ago we know when the solstices occurred. Stonehenge and other stone circles that enshrine the moment of the solstice are thousands of years old, maybe as much as nine or 10 thousand years. Which means that before those stone circles were built, we already had “time.” Just not clocks.

Time is not new and didn’t arrive with the first clock. Animals know time too. They know when it is time to mate and time to push the fledglings out of the nest. They know when seeds will ripen. They know how long eggs need to hatch.

The Duke knows when it’s time to go out and he tells us. He has it down to the minute. Even though we have a dog flap, Garry has to walk him to the door, open it to let him out, then come back down in 10 minutes to let hm back in. Mind you he goes in and out all day long, but this is Duke’s ritual. He knows to the minute when it should occur. He only gets confused when we change the clocks. He doesn’t need a clock. He has one in his head.

Time to cut the corn

If you take off your watch and stop wearing it — which I did about 10 years ago — you will still know what “time” it is. It takes a few weeks to get your bearings, but you will find your way. You can tell by the light and the “feel” of the day. You can tell what the seasons are. Calendars be damned, we all know when it’s time to plant and time to reap. It may take a little practice, but you’ll figure it out even if you’ve never done it before.

It’s amazing how much we know that we don’t know we know.

We have always known, just as the birds and the deer and the squirrels know. Time isn’t just a thing we measure by mechanical means. It is the passages of life and seasons.

We have always had time. What we didn’t have were clocks. Clocks haven’t changed time, just how we measure it.



Categories: #ChangingSeasons, #FPQ, Anecdote, Archeology, Challenges, Provocative Questions, time

Tags: , , ,

25 replies

  1. Time is, and has always been there. The real question is when did humans begin?

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    • Well, I guess you’d have to define “human.” The first humans emerged in Africa around two million years ago, long before modern humans (aka Homo sapiens) appeared. There’s a lot anthropologists don’t know about how the different groups of humans interacted and mated with each other over this long stretch of prehistory. BUT we all came out of Africa and I’m sure that must mean something.

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  2. I have been dealing with this question for many years. Time, as we think about it, is just a mathematical tool. The universe doesn’t need time to exist…just like it doesn’t need us. It works on the principle of the creation of conditions. And it doesn’t matter if it happens now or later. You could say that my watch has three values: before, now and then. Have You a wonderful day dear Marilyn☀️✨⏳🌹

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    • I think we humans tend to confuse the “measuring” of time — which is a human construct — versus “the passage” of time, which just IS. Taking my watch off was, for several months, unsettling. Now, unless I have an appointment and a specific time to get there, I look outside and generally know what time it is by the position of the sun. What’s more interesting is how our dog knows to the minute what time it is at night when there is no sun. But he knows 🙂

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      • 🤗What you write about is rhythm (biorhythm) rather than time. I have never needed an alarm clock in my life to wake up when I needed to. I am simply convinced that time does not exist. It’s done when it’s done. – that’s the principle of the universe🤗

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        • Time as an idea is very human. I’m sure animals don’t think of time as a thing in its own right. I really just IS. Being IS time. We use words and we love to measure, but I agree. Passages, seasons, birth, life — all that — exists. Humans have wrapped our concept of “time” around things as they just are.

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          • and yet it’s so simple… there are black holes in the universe where what we consider time (linear) does not apply. Two constants collapse near black holes…time and the speed of light

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      • I purposely, now that I’m retired, keep to clocks in my bedroom. Plus I like it dark and natural. And yet when I wake up a time or two during the night, I can sense the time like whether I haven’t been asleep long or daylight is close to breaking. Time has made many of us slaves to ritual and routines.

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        • When we are working, I suppose we don’t have a choice but once we aren’t working, I’m surprised at how “time sensitive” many people remain. Once I removed my watch, it was like taking my first deep breath in many years.

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  3. Yes, time has existed since the beginning of time, whenever that was.

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    • This just IS. We have always tried to figure out a way of measuring it, but in the end, it just is. Seasons pass, generations pass, eras pass and they will do that whether or not we measure them. But we always want to “nail things down.” I don’t think you can do that with time. We sure do keep trying, though.

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    • For me, the true wake-up was when I developed a rash on my wrist from wearing a watch every day, all day, for most of my adult life. I had to take it off and after a while, I realized I didn’t really need it. Time just exists. With or without humans to measure it.

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  4. HI Marilyn, I think mankind as a whole has forgotten that at the end of the day we are also creatures and should be in touch with the natural rhythms. The pandemic came as a massive shock to many people, especially people in first world countries, because it was a big wake up call that mankind does not actually control nature, nature controls us. We are seeing this more and more as the consequences of our poor custodianship of the natural world come home to roost.

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    • Yes, I think we thought we were mini gods who had the power to make everything the way WE wanted it. We certainly have been taught otherwise — or at least, SOME of us have been taught. Others will never learn. I don’t know what channels you get, but if you get Disney+, there’s an amazing National Geographic show about North America. The photography alone is breathtaking.

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  5. Love this answer Marilyn

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    • I have learned a lot from watching birds and other wild things. They are very time sensitive and extremely precise, too. They have even learned to predict OUR activities. They wait all morning for me to come and feed them. They don’t get crazy. They wait because they know around the middle of the day, I will come and give them food and fresh water. If I am a bit late, they get restless and seem surprised if I’m early. They also have designated eating times, resting times, sleeping times. They know a lot more than we think they know.

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