‘Here was an invention that quantified the passage of time, that laid ruler and compass to the span of desire, that measured out exactly the moments of life. It was magical, it was unbearable, it was outside natural law. Yet the clock could bot be ignored. It would have to be worshipped.’*
In another of his short stories about time, Alan Lightman imagines a world where pilgrims journey towards the “Great Clock,” each, in turn, taking one of twelve places around the clock and chanting in turn.
Stockmarkets open and close at precise times. Time is money, we say. We ask one another if we have time.
“Punctuality is the soul of business.”
“Preparedness and punctuality are two of the most important qualities of a leader.”
Time brings order, alignment, control.
It’s too easy to confuse control with freedom.
We think those who are in control are free to do what they want, but perhaps they find themselves trapped, having replaced the important for the urgent.
‘Every action, no matter how little, is no longer free.’*
Erich Fromm says psychoanalysis is “to know oneself.”** The truth will set us free, he says.
To not know ourselves is not to be as free as we thought, or as in control. But where is the time to “know oneself” when there’s so much to do? How free are we to do ‘the right thing in the right way at the right time with the right spirit’?^ Something like this sounds more hopeful for the world – people who know how to move through time and with time wisely – not seeking to control only to find themselves controlled by it.
Perhaps Peter Senge would call such people animateurs:
‘An animateur (from the root animer) is someone who “brings to life” a new way of thinking, seeing, or interacting that creates focus and energy.’^^