Time Is An Illusion

September 1, 2006
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The Theory of Relativity proves that light is a wave. It proves it mathematically to the 14th decimal place. That's pretty darn sure.

The Theory of Relativity proves that light is a wave. It proves it mathematically to the 14th decimal place. That's pretty darn sure.

About as certain is the proof offered by quantum mechanics: Light is a particle. Quantum mechanics is pert-near-impossible for the average genius to figure out. The few who have know that this theory has been proven to the 17th decimal place.

So, one theory proves light is a wave and the other proves that light is a particle. Hmm. It would seem that these theories are mutually exclusive. Yet, they both appear to be true.

This topic came up in a marketing strategy meeting with Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads, and John Young, the Marketing Maverick (apparently fellows with lots of active brain cells like to adopt nicknames.). At the time (?) we were discussing the concept of punctuality (!), Roy and John launched into a subatomic level of conversation.

The apparent conflict between the two theories can be resolved very simply. If you assume that time doesn't exist, then the theories are consistent with each other.

The bottom line: Time is an illusion.

Heavy stuff. When you picked up this copy of ICS, did you imagine you would participate in an intellectual exercise about the wave-particle theory of light?

Time doesn't exist. Until we create it. We create time out of fear, ignorance and lies.

When we are afraid, we round up all sorts of excuses for not doing what we really want or need to do. All those excuses take up space and add time.

Ignorance leads to wheel-spinning. We don't know what to do. We keep trying the same things over and over. We create more messes to attend to. This creates time as well as frustration.

Time starts to really stack up when you tell a lie. A lot of time and effort is required to defend and preserve the lie. You have to remember what you first said, and to whom you said it. You have to avoid talking about it, and avoid people who may find you out. It adds up.

Here's an interesting thought: Have you noticed that time flies when you are engaged in something you love to do? Have you noticed how much you get done when you are focused on meaningful, enjoyable activities? Have you ever experienced a moment where time stands still? When the moment passes, you see great deeds in its wake.

Time is an illusion.

The older I get, the more comfortable I am with seemingly opposite concepts which both prove to be true.

Time is an illusion. But I apparently haven't figured out how to make the illusion disappear. Every day, time kicks me in the butt.

I have found that the more productive I am, the less time it takes. The less productive I am, the more time it takes. True, inspired, right-purpose activities deliver a lot of production...in very little time. On the contrary, note how interminable time is when you are doing absolutely nothing, like waiting in the DMV line to renew your driver's license.

Time doesn't really exist.

But you still have to pick up the kids at 3:15 in the afternoon.

The Only Way Out is Through

Intent is more important that any list of to-dos. Intend to do something and the whole universe conspires to make it so. It's a great way to leverage time. In other words, be clear on what's important. Be clear on your intent. If you absolutely intend to pick up the kids at 3:15 in the afternoon, it will happen.

You might be well served to take the car.

At some point, I hope to graduate to a level of existence where time isn't a factor. In the meantime, let me share some strategies for getting by on the time we've created.

How To Keep Time From Expanding? Quit Doing Things That Don't Matter

In "The Procrastinator's Handbook," author Rita Emmett lists her "Thirteen "Hypocritical" Time-Wasting Games":
  • Shuffling through the same papers of clutter over and over.
  • Playing computer games.
  • Having long, chatty telephone calls that aren't important to you.
  • Lingering with unexpected visitors who aren't important to you.
  • Surfing the Web.
  • Attending unnecessary meetings.
  • Working aimlessly without objectives, priorities, or deadlines.
  • Trying to do too many things at once and underestimating the time available to do them all.
  • Being indecisive.
  • Saying yes when you should be saying no.
  • Pushing yourself when you are too tired to function well.
  • Doing things that don't need to be done (or that somebody else could do.)
  • Doing an excessive amount of preparation.

It isn't a matter of doing more. More adds more time. It is a matter of doing fewer things, things that don't matter.

More Is Less

It's also a matter of having fewer things. Things take up space...and create time. It takes time to store things, and find things. Things need maintenance. Pitch what doesn't matter.

We are bombarded by 6,000 marketing messages a day. Be ruthless as you sort through mail, e-mail and other information. Dump it unless you can justify the existence. 99 times out of 100 you are not going to miss what you threw out. The remaining instance? Find what you need on the Internet.

You don't want to throw away everything away. Hang on to the important stuff. The things you must have need a place to call their own. Otherwise they will become lost things. Lost things are really time intensive.

Fear and ignorance. Look for them in the distractions that suck the life out of your day.

How To Leverage Time? Pursue a Worthy Goal

Look into your heart and discover that which you love to do. And do it. Clean up any lies that you are telling yourself which justify you being less than what you want to be.

Put your heart and soul into whatever the task at hand. For within any ethical activity is an opportunity to elevate the mundane to a higher level of service and value. Do the best you can with what you have right now. If there is a job to do, get it done.

Think less in terms of details. Freedom from time comes from staying focused on worthy goals, and constantly weeding the time-expanders out of your day. Your intent is paramount.

A Message To Garcia

As a young boy, Roy Williams stumbled upon a copy of Elbert Hubbard's essay titled, "A Message to Garcia."

Hubbard wrote the piece on Feb. 22, 1899. He called it a "literary trifle," and ran it in his newspaper without even a title. Hubbard thought little of these wise words, inspired by an argument with his son the previous evening regarding the true hero of the Cuban War. At one point in the war, President McKinley needed to get a message to Garcia, the leader of the insurgents. He had to alert him of the army's plans to land in Cuba. Here's an excerpt, taken from Roy's book, "The Wizard of Ads":

"Someone said to the President, ‘There's a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.'

"Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How ‘the fellow by the name of Rowan' took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and having delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

"The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia. Rowan took the letter and did not ask, ‘Where is he at?' By the eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the stature placed in every college in the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this or that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do the thing - ‘carry a message to Garcia!"

Hubbard goes on to describe what happens when someone other than a "Garcia" is pegged for an assignment.

"You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office - six clerks are within your call. Summon any one and make this request: ‘Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Corregio.'

"Will the clerk quietly say, ‘Yes, sir,' and do the task?

"On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye, and ask one of more of the following questions:

"'Who was he?'

"'Which encyclopedia?'

"'Where is the encyclopedia?'

"'Was I hired for that?'

"'Don't you mean Bismark?'

"'What's the matter with Charlie doing it?'

"'Is he dead?'

"'Is there any hurry?'

"'Shan't I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?'

"'What do you want to know for?'"

And so it goes, while time expands like foam from a can of insulation.

Garcias get things done in seemingly no time at all. The intention is to get it done. Others create a web, a matrix of time...and get firmly lodged in it.

Time is an illusion.

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