Time. A phenomenon as yet undecided, undeciphered, unreal. It exists as both a concept and a reality. Many physicists, mathematicians and philosophers have tried to unravel it, hypothesizing and postulating till the cows come home. But it remains an elusive illusion.
“Time – nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once” – Physics Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg
I’ve talked previously about the luxury of space – the concept of space and the passing of time are irrevocably intertwined; one allows the other to exist in our minds as dimensions that make it possible for us to tangibly consider our presence in the world. Have I lost you yet? Stay with me – the topic of time itself is intricate and extreme, as even quantum physics fails to adequately explain it. In other words, it’s harder than rocket science.
“The older I get the more I realise that the ultimate luxury is time” – Michael Kors
On a day to day level, we understand time as having a natural order, a flowing sequence where one thing happens after another but cannot happen before something that has already happened. And the Laws of Physics don’t help because the fact is, our experience of time just makes no sense. Time exists, that’s for sure, but how to describe it as an actuality is yet to be nailed down. It denies definition, yet we all know what time is. Dictionaries have it written as a ‘measured period during which an action, process or condition exists or continues’, but that in itself is problematic when we dissect the phrase – several of the words used are descriptions of time; period, during, continue. It’s a Pandora’s Box of seemingly infinite possibilities – does time have boundaries, even? Just as infinity is impossible to imagine, so too is the idea of time.
We only understand time within our own limitations; our time spent on this earth, how we spend our time, what little time we have, what to do with our time… We unconsciously measure our time through changes and actions, quantifiable representations of things happening around us and to us. But in Classical Mechanics, time is ‘something that passes uniformly regardless of whatever happens in this world’ (researchgate.net) – Newton and his theory of absolute space and absolute time. And yet, another esteemed scientist came up with the opposite – with the Special Theory of Relativity whereby time does not flow at a fixed rate. That scientist was Einstein, a name synonymous with being a genius, so was he right in saying that moving clocks appear to tick more slowly relative to stationary ones? Strangely, time is measured by motion but also is measurable through moving. I’ve lost you again, haven’t I? As I said in my last article, The Luxury of Space, ‘perhaps we’re moving so fast we don’t see the wood for the trees. It’s ironic that we have so many time-savers but so much less time’. But what has all this got to do with luxury holidays?
Well I was wondering about the concept of buying time, as if a theory can be a commodity. On a day to day basis we experience two sources of time; clocks and our own internal body clocks, our personal, psychological imagining of time passing. We measure our actions by the clock, use it to quantify (and therefore make tangible) the abstract. This is nothing new; sundials have been around for thousands of years, ancient Egyptians even using the passing of water through a stone vessel to measure time. It was the ancient Babylonians around 1800BC that divided up time into days, hours, minutes and seconds and it is amazing to think that that ancient concept has literally been written in stone ever since. Every single civilised human on the planet accepts the cutting up of time from that long ago. Crazy when you think too much about it. But time is a pretty crazy concept, as proven by our inability to properly define it.
Everyone who ever existed in the history of the world has measured time in one way or another, whether it be by the position of the stars or the sun, both of which are surprisingly accurate by today’s standards – no-one actually knows if each second counted by a clock was the same length of time as the last. And there’s no way of going back and checking!
We all experience time differently, what felt like a minute to one person might feel like nearer two to another. Time passing is subjective. So is it all in our heads?
“Time is merely a feature of our memories and expectations” – Persian Philosopher Avicenna
There’s another theory, called relationalism, that states that time can only occur if change happens. It means that if everything were to stop; movement, growth, cellular activity, even thoughts – like a suspended animation event – then time would stop too, as it is just a measure of change. Perhaps that goes some way to explaining the phrase ‘time stood still’, used when a point in time seems to last forever, when you’re locked in moment until something changes to break the spell; a breath-taking view broken by a flapping seagull, a lover’s embrace quelled by a rain shower, waiting for the winner to be announced – these are moments when time seems to stretch, the world disappears around you and you hold your breath for an eternity.
Or at least that’s what it seems like to you in your moment. For everyone else around time passes as it always has. And that’s why we need to make time for…well, time. Time is a luxury we ill-afford ourselves when we should actually allow more time-outs from this busy world.
“We don’t have the luxury of time. We spend more because of how we live, but it’s important to be with our family and friends” – Sara Blakely
We take time for granted, it’s a given, an ever-present infinite part of life, silently ticking away in the background as we go about our day. It’s a good idea not to overthink it as that can lead to serious existential dread – there’s a very scary infographic about how much time you get to spend with your parents in your lifetime (on average). Seeing the statistics in black and white really hammers it home how precious time spent together really is. If you want a reality check, visit the Wait But Why website – they visualise how many weeks you have in your life based on living to the ripe old age of 90. And it fits on an A4 page…
Once you’ve been thoroughly petrified at how short life is and how little time you have to spend with the people you love, you’ll start to realise what a luxury time can be.
“Time and silence are the most luxurious things today” – Tom Ford
How does time change when you get away from the everyday? They say time flies when you’re having fun – presumably, as we’ve learnt above, because fun involves lots of activity, activity = change = time passing. But that kinda takes the magic out of it!
But we want to preserve time on holiday, savour every moment, make this precious break last as long as possible. It’s time to take a timeout, stop doing everything you usually do and really relax. Stop and stare at the world around you. Take a moment to appreciate the little things. Hunker down in a luxury place to stay and enjoy the wow factor. Enjoy the luxury of having time to be together.
The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time.
Katie Chown is Co-Creator of Where Oh Where. Where Oh Where is a new way of discovering your perfect place to stay in the UK, with luxury hideaways that go beyond glamping.