Time is the Stuff Life’s Made Of

wasting-timeby Anniel11/3/16
Several weeks ago on Drudge there was a report that people who are chronically late suffer from a mental illness. Not all psychiatrists agree, but some would like it to be classed that way. I’m sure they will soon all agree. They’ll need new patients to keep their livelihood going.

I read some of the comments on the site, and one of them struck a note with me. The writer said that many years ago his friends and family were always on his case for being late. They were offended by his bad manners and no longer trusted him to be on time. In fact they just generally distrusted anything he said, period. So off he went to a counselor. He was certain the counselor would say that he was indeed a busy man and the folks around him had no right to expect him to always be on time.

To his anger and dismay the counselor told him he was just a selfish wretch and his lateness was abusive to other people. He was very angry and went home to sulk. It took a few days before he looked at himself honestly and said the counselor was right, he WAS just plain selfish. That was 30+ years ago and he has not been late since. People now trust him again and he is much happier because he has also learned other ways to be thoughtful and mannerly.

My friendly adviser on Judaic thought says that wasting other people’s time by causing them to wait for you is considered a sin. It is a theft, theft of time and purpose, pure and simple.

I discussed this with a good friend who has the heart and soul of an mathematician. Remembering that the Bible says a year in God’s time is as thousand years to man, she got out her scientific calculator and figured that if we live our full three-score years and ten, we are away from our home with God for 3.8 seconds of His time. Wow, talk about a small moment to accomplish our tasks here on earth!

We all need to remember to use our 3.8 seconds wisely, it really is the stuff life’s made of. • (1144 views)

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44 Responses to Time is the Stuff Life’s Made Of

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I had a friend who was compulsively late — we once got him to show up on time once by telling him the meeting started an hour earlier than it did. He showed up at a mutual friend’s wedding 30 years ago just as it was ending.

    I’ve tended to be more punctual, no doubt a reflection of an Army upbringing. But these days, my increasingly slow movements make it increasingly difficult.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Don’t different cultures have different rules about time? I’ve garnered from at least movies that the Japanese don’t have our Western concept of punctuality. I’m sure Mr. Kung knows more about that.

    There are deep cultural and metaphysical questions about man’s conception of times, especially regarding his industrial need to be ruled by it. It’s difficult to do business without adherence to various data points, including cost, market needs, and time.

    We Westerners view time as linear. Apparently many Eastern cultures viewed it as cyclical. Westerners view progress as inevitable and going only in one direction.

    Certainly passive-aggressive behavior can be expressed through making people wait. But surely there’s more to this subject than that.

    Gotta go. I’m late for a delivery.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Orwell commented in Homage to Catalonia on the Spanish mañana. He admired their lack of the Western “time neurosis” — but noted that it was a problem for him because he did have that neurosis.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That’s an interesting and central aspect of this subject, Timothy. I love the “time neurosis” description. We all likely have it to some extent. It’s similar to the “telephone neurosis” where — even if one is eating, having sex, or giving life-sustaining CPR to someone — you feel compelled to answer the telephone.

        Obviously some lazy or passive-aggressive people may not stick to the clock for reasons other than trying to free oneself from the time neurosis. But freeing myself from it from time to time is often on my mind.

        Makes it damn difficult to watch Perry Mason at night unless I’m aware of the time though.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Answering machines do a lot to get rid of the telephone neurosis. If the phone isn’t handy (and most of the time it isn’t), I don’t even try to answer, partly because there’s no way I can get to it in 4 rings, at which point the answering machine kicks in. It used to be different, a year ago, when I wasn’t yet physically debilitated.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Obviously in my business “telephone neurosis” reins. But if someone calls me before 7:30, the phone doesn’t get answered. Or after 10:00. Even then. Fortunately, I know if it’s something really really important, I’ll get an email. But there are just too many sales calls these days (even being registered on the “do not call list”) that, well, I’m just not one of those kinds of people who stays glued to his phone or Facebook waiting for the next ping, text, or “Like.”

            But that’s the fashion these days.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Don’t different cultures have different rules about time? I’ve garnered from at least movies that the Japanese don’t have our Western concept of punctuality. I’m sure Mr. Kung knows more about that

      An interesting example of this difference is how printed invitations are written in Singapore.

      When indicating the time an event is to start they write, the actual hour, for example 8:00pm or 7:00pm and follow it with “sharp, so what one reads is something like, “Supper to start at 8:00PM Sharp.”

      This means that one should not show up until about 8:20 or 8:30 at the earliest. I am not joking.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That is really weird, Mr. Kung.

        Speaking of another time issue, perhaps you could clear up the confusion over the exact definition of “stylishly late.”

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          If one is good-looking, rich, interesting, loved or important one can be “stylishly” late.

          If one is none of the above, one’s tardiness is simply rude.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        MAD Magazine had a parody “Reality Street” which included a lesson on time — such as when you should show up at an event compared to the “official” beginning time.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Don’t different cultures have different rules about time?

      I believe when we talk about the different ways cultures view time, what we are really talking about is how they view punctuality. The West has become more demanding in this regard with the improvement of technology.

      Church clocks didn’t appear until the 14th century and most didn’t have minute hands until much later. And clocks were rare in the home until something like the 1800’s. Of course, a few aristocrats and others owned some beautiful timepieces, but the people couldn’t afford them.

      I suspect the obsession with punctuality probably caught on with the advent of the industrial revolution, particularly with the expansion of the factory system with its need for precision. Companies would sound bells, horns and whistles to let workers know it was time to come to work.

      Vienna has a very nice clock museum if anyone is interested in subject.


      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I suspect that you’re right about the industrial revolution providing a spur for the minute-hand and minute-handedness in terms of our obligations to the clock.

  3. Anniel says:

    In Germany if you’re late you are probably never forgiven. A friend of ours is married to a German and his joke for finding out if someone is German is to invite them to your home at 6 P.M., then you open your door a few moments before 6. If the guest is standing there looking at his watch while having his other hand up to knock, you know he’s German.

    I try to be on time, but realize there certainly can be extenuating circumstances. What I really dislike are the people who are always late and always make a fuss to gain attention when they finally arrive, or, if it’s to a business meeting, waste every one else’s time by demanding to know what was said before they got there.

    I belong to a book club where one of the women is always late, even when we meet at her home. Her husband lets us in and we finally start without her, then she rushes in an hour late and demands to know who said what about the book. We’ve finally had to have words about her behavior.

    Come to think of it, always arriving totally unannounced is kind of controlling too. What if the other person has an appointment?

    Being away from God for only 3.8 seconds made me consider His perspective and the timeliness of our duties.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      In Germany if you’re late you are probably never forgiven. A friend of ours is married to a German and his joke for finding out if someone is German is to invite them to your home at 6 P.M., then you open your door a few moments before 6. If the guest is standing there looking at his watch while having his other hand up to knock, you know he’s German.

      Germans even have a term for turning up early for appointments, “Soldatenzeit.” Soldiers’s Time. That means one’s watch runs a few minutes early.

      If Germans are disciplined, German soldiers are super-disciplined.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    To his anger and dismay the counselor told him he was just a selfish wretch and his lateness was abusive to other people.

    Good for the counselor.

    Having encountered a few of these perennially late pricks. One man who I knew was always about thirty minutes late to start the day, so we started telling him that we were leaving 30 minutes before we actually did.

    Another guy I knew kept me waiting for over 4o minutes, three times in a row. The third time, was for a dinner appointment. Having had enough, my wife and I started dinner before he arrived. Once he did, I let him know in no uncertain terms what I thought.

    • Anniel says:

      Good for you. The woman from our book club was late to a friend’s funeral and went to the front of the chapel rather than sliding in quietly at the back. I could have kicked her.

      Sometimes you’re just late because you got lost or weather conditions were bad. We once had both conditions, we were lost when we hit black ice and spun into a snow bank. We had to call our son to come rescue us. Bear couldn’t get out the buried driver’s side of the car, and I couldn’t climb out the top passenger’s side. It took our son and three passers by to pull us out.

      Thank goodness for cell phones.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I was late to a family reunion a little while back because I didn’t have directions other than the AAA guidebook. On 3 occasions I had to make a choice, and I managed to make the wrong one every time. I was most unhappy — but I still made it while the buffet line was active. It pays to leave early just in case.

  5. Steve Lancaster says:

    A sense of time is mostly a Western concept. Although the Chinese can be credited with inventing a form of clock. It was in the west that time took on broad cultural and economic influences. To this end we have the Catholic Church to thank, the ritual of prayers, observances, and holidays required better calendars and methods of timekeeping ultimately pushing inventors to build better bell towers and clocks to regulate the day.

    Our Puritan ancestors were very concerned with time. The strong influence of Calvin and the doctrine of predestination and the gospel of wealth is so much a part of American culture that the newest immigrant can understand Poor Richard, “A stitch in time saves nine”. We are fundamentally angered, exasperated and vexed by people and situations that “waste our time”. A common dismissal of rude people is that they are a waste of our time.

    Time is the only commodity we have that is entirely ours, we can give of it freely to friends and family, or to the community, but we can never take it back, once used it is gone forever. And it is used a punishment for crime. We lock criminals up for a length of time, in effect we take a portion of their life from them.

    We need to take care that nosey, busybodies do not waste our precious time for us. We have all encountered them at our home, in a parking lot or street; “just one moment of your time”, they say, what they really mean is not a moment but they will take all the time you have, and demand more. It is ok to be rude to these people, but shooting them on the street is bound to get you talked about.

    • Anniel says:


      You got me to thinking scientifically about time. Until the 18th century when John Harrison devoted 40 years to inventing a clock that would keep perfect time at sea, sailors took their lives in their hands when they went exploring. With the invention of the chronometer and the establishment of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the world was changed forever. The whole world used, and I think still does use, GMT to establish their time. There can be no fudging on airport and railroad arrival and departure times. Safety is paramount.

      The big problem was not latitude, that could be determined by the stars, but longitude was an different matter. That’s what Harrison figured out. I understand that naval schools are once again training sailors in the use of sextants, chronometers, star charts, and all the old methods of establishing positions at sea.

      There are some wonderful books about the genius of John Harrison. One of them is simply called “Longitude”, written by Dava Sobel.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The Royal Navy offered a prize to anyone who could come up with a suitable chronometer. They weren’t quick to pay, naturally.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        True, 1000 years ago if you needed to meet someone, say for lunch the window for “being on time” might be very broad say plus or minus 2-4 hours. If you were traveling from London to Cambridge you arrival time would be defined in days not hours, or minutes and you were “on time” if you arrived on the day expected.

        Today our schedules are determined by the second. I can set my alarm to waken me at the same time every day for the rest of my life. When clocks were first invented only the very rich could have one and it might be accurate to a few minutes per day. Since then time has become more accurate and less expensive.

        I have a watch purchased about 10 years ago. It is updated daily from the atomic clock to the second, it is powered by solar cell that recharges the battery. We have technology in our house that constantly tells the time, coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator, ovens, not to mention our phones, televisions even the base of a lamp which regulates the time it comes on and turns off.

        It is this sense of time that explains the broad cultural differences between the west and our enemies in the Islamic world. They can use our technology but they do not have the time to invent their own.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          We have technology in our house that constantly tells the time, coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator, ovens, not to mention our phones, televisions even the base of a lamp which regulates the time it comes on and turns off.

          And none of those clocks ever match so I get sort of an average of the time as I walk from room to room.

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            Tell the truth Brad, you still have a VCR that flashes 8888 because you can’t set it, or the power goes off so often that its not worth it, your saving time by not knowing the time.

  6. David says:

    We should be alarmed at the increase in diagnoses in the DSM during the past 20 years. Absent clearly defined mental illness, there is much fluff in that volume.
    All the more to define from ‘on-high’, that a person is mentally ill and collect a fee for ‘treatment’.

  7. Lucia says:

    Even my outside dog can “tell” time. He goes by the degree of sunlight as the day progresses as to when it’s time to feed him in the morning and walk him in the afternoon. I’ve checked him during the daylight differences as the seasons change and the only constant is the position and intensity of the sun. For that matter, I rely on the sun’s position for time also when I’m working outside. I don’t wear a watch so I have a sense of time mostly accurate to within a half hour. It takes me a couple of weeks to adjust to the switch between standard and daylight savings time, though.

    Measuring the passage of days and seasons is vital to work and play, eating and resting, even in a rural setting. Hunters need to know when animals move from resting areas to feeding areas, fishermen need to know when fish migrate, farmers need to know when to work the fields, let livestock breed, and harvest meat and produce.

    The brain has it’s own clock that relies on light and I’ve read that blind people can lose that ability to know when to sleep and when to wake up. Heck, sometimes even I can’t tell when to wake up when the winter nights are so long. I usually wait until I smell the coffee.

    But my house is full of clocks too, and it becomes irritating to reset so many clocks when we have frequent power outages in the winter time.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Not to mention “spring forward and fall back”, the second part ofhich takes place tonight.

    • Anniel says:

      I recently read a news report that said trees sleep at night. Some scientists measured how straight birch trees were in daylight hours and then dropped their branches down at night. They were going to check other kinds of trees. Then I looked over at a shelf of plants all closed up for the night and said, “duh.”

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Amazing. Also amazing is stories of birds (swifts, I believe) who may actually sleep while on the wing. That’s something even Taco Bell drive-through cashiers can’t match.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Obviously, when there is no light, the plants can’t photosynthesize and therefore must use up their own stores of energy. (This also leads to them using oxygen and letting out carbon dioxide, which was used as a key point in our horror store I read many years ago,)

    • Timothy Lane says:

      A nice episode with a very cruel ending. Burgess Meredih vied with Fritz Weaver as Serling’s favorite guest star (which “The Obsolete Man” especially good).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        This was obviously one of the better stories. And one of the best performances. They had many good actors on that series who could sometime prop up Serling’s weak stories. I re-watch some of them now and just roll my eyes. But this one with Burgess Meredith holds up well.

        Another one I like that I saw recently (also involving time…travel, in this case) was Cliff Robertson as Christian Horn in “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim.” He’s scouting on ahead for his beleaguered wagon train (including his sick child) and stumbles into present day New Mexico.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The link below is to one of two “Twilight Zone” episodes which I recall. It also has to do with time.

      The other was, “To Serve Man.”


      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        “To Serve Man.” Wasn’t that an allegory of the Democrat Party?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Serling was a liberal, so he wouldn’t have intended it that way, but 50 years later . . . A friend once noted the way the Kanamits smile at how much a woman weighs as she gets on the spaceship (which isn’t how they would normally be expected to react — and in a few moments, one learns why).

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, I’ve made the time change on 4 clocks/watches. I think the computer will make it automatically, and perhaps my TV as well. We shall see. It’s certainly a lot easier with analog than with digital timepieces.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That was absolutely hilarious. Kudos to the creative and funny people ho did that mock trailer. Thanks, Glenn.

  8. Lucia says:

    We went to bed and hour early last night after resetting all our clocks (5 in the kitchen) but still got up at 4 am (or 5 am on Saturday’s time). Adjustment is going to take awhile.

  9. Anniel says:

    All of our writing, and not once did we mention the great Albert Einstein and e=mc2. There was a program on Nova the other night about matter, energy and finding the speed of light. I smacked myself on the forehead for being so remiss.

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