Month: January 2022

On Experiencing The Passage Of Time

During this time of year, the concept of time is ever more present. New Year’s is still fresh in our minds, as well as all of our resolutions for the year ahead. Office workers are about to receive their performance reviews on the year that has gone by, and their bonuses will be determined on whether or not they’ve hit their targets in the specified time frame they were being measured on. As human beings engaged in the productive economic chain, time feels like it’s either flying by or dragging on.

But the concept of time isn’t an objective one. As Luiz Felipe Pondé so eloquently explained on the year-end episode of Linhas Cruzadas titled “Is the New Year an illusion?”, there are many different types of time studied in the field of philosophy: cosmic time, physiological time, sociological time, and even technological time.

Cosmic time is indifferent to us. As people living in the pale blue dot, we are simply related to it in an ephemeral way. This is the Universe’s time – where time is relative to the distance of space itself.

Physiological time can be best understood as cellular or biological. Our bodies are all aging, yet the way we experience it is completely outside of our control. People can try to alter it with medical procedures to change its appearance but you can’t effectively change its pace. And once it expires, our physiology simply dissolves and we turn into dust.

Sociological time is the one humans in the 21st century are most familiar with. It’s composed of calendars, the pace of the productive economic chain, juristic sentences, deadlines, etc. However, what most people don’t realize is that this experience of time is a fairly recent phenomena in human history. 50,000 years ago – and for that matter, even just 1,000 years ago -, there was no sociological time. There were no calendars, New Year’s parties, deadlines. The majority of human existence has happened in times of repetition – whether or not it was Monday or Saturday, you did the exact same things. For contrast, modern social time in a place like New York City goes by a lot faster than in Woodville, Mississippi. The reason being that social relations in NYC are expensive and you need to generate economic activity, so whether you complete a task now or in one hour can cost a business a lot of money.

Finally, technological time is one that takes place within the Web 2.0 (ie.: social media). It runs in parallel to sociological time, but follows different rules – the distance from point A to B is irrelevant, unlike in the real world; or when having a debate online, your argument will repeat itself to everyone who reads it, enabling hundreds of people to partake in the discussion without your presence. This type of time is the newest and is getting faster with each year that goes by.

Much of the discontents of modern society today derives from their relationship with time. Whether someone passes away, or you’re in a deadline crunch, or a pandemic pushed you to work fully online and remote – it feels like there’s never enough time. This subjective experience cannot be taken lightly as time is the only finite resource we have, physiologically speaking.

And so, making the most of our time doesn’t fall on doing more things in less time, since time itself is experienced subjectively. Rather it comes down to pausing and truly appreciating our movement through it – the smells, sights, sounds and thoughts that are constantly morphing into our human experience. Maybe then, and only then, the time we have will feel like enough.


Song Of The Birds

Early in the morning, I hear them
Sing a full spectrum of harmonies
As if saying to all living beings to
Rise up and go on
Spin the wheels of life on Earth
And go do what you were meant to do before
Sleep and calm befell upon every corner of the land
That you found yourself in
Early in the morning, I hear them

Halfway across the world
In a jungle of bricks, leaves and everything in between
The sound is different but
The message still clearly the same
Reminding that today is another day and one must
Rise up and go on
Lay another brick on this project we call
Life, day after day
I still hear them

No matter where I go, except
In the farthest corners of the land where
Life struggles to exist and silence befalls like a spell
As if still asleep, forgotten to
Rise up and go on
To take a step toward further existence in the fight
Against an overwhelming nothingness that
Takes hold in the forgotten corners of the world where
The guardians above the clouds cannot reach

Early in the morning, I hear them
Touch every cell in my body with a soft
Melodic vibration which
I cannot make up the words, only the intent and
Consistency of each day that from 
High above the heavens
The Divine itself lifts me by my underarms
Like a child in need of a push to
Rise up and go on



On Seeking Adventure

For millennia humans have sought and gone on amazing adventures – the most notable one being Odysseus’ return home after having pissed off Poseidon. However, as society became more peaceful, specialized and integrated, people only leave their desks for 3 weeks out of the year in search of some excitement. To make matters even more depressing, they spend more time documenting their adventures on social media than actually living them.

In one of his most famous novels called Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre describes this effect in a philosophical context. People often romanticize about going on an epic journey, yet the very act of thinking about going on one holds you back from immersing yourself in the moment. An adventure is a narration, and stories can only be told in retrospect. You can’t live and narrate at the same time, the very act of journeying in an adventure requires immersing yourself in the act of living.

A few basic elements of an adventure are: the hero, the quest itself, taking some sort of risk and eventually transforming oneself. It’s tough to be a hero nowadays, at least in the Marvel sense. Yet, we see them around us everywhere – the single mom with two jobs in order to put food on the table, the nurse working day and night to save their patients, or even the unknown government worker intersecting hack attacks on a daily basis. But does it always have to be such grand acts of sacrifice like this?

Some people simply don’t have the option not to be courageous – for that single mother, giving up isn’t an option. However, we are all heroes in our own stories. Yes, some are raised in more difficult conditions than others, but experience is subjective – what is scary for one man may be routine for another.

The quest will always involve some form of risk. Whether that is taking a plane to South America, or driving to work – we are not devoid of danger. Life is a dangerous endeavour and it involves just as much suffering as happiness. Oftentimes we find ourselves seeking to relieve pain and remain in a constant state of happiness – that is simply not possible. Humans are highly adaptable, as a recent study on snowbirds show: whenever someone moves from a cold climate to a hot one, happiness spikes in the short term but largely subsides to previous levels shortly after. Being at peace with the feeling of sadness, fear and danger is paramount to living a full existence.

The thought that an elevated experience lays around the corner, somewhere in the future once you move to X place or make Y amount of money is a convenient one. It allows us to put our locus of attention on some exterior event or object, ridding us of our own internal demons.

But whether we put ourselves through tough quests or life pushes us towards it, adventures are unavoidable. The illusion that an adventure only happens during those 3 weeks of the year when you hike the Inca Trail or go bungee jumping in New Zealand is a superficial one. We are all journeying an adventurous path, yet very few realize it.