Take a moment to think about moments

Movement in a busy street.

Every moment you do something or don’t do something is different. That’s obvious, but what’s not is that we usually don’t think about time as a series of moments. We think about years, about months some times. We think about weeks as a separated time unit, more attached to days than to months or years per se. In the end, moments are part of days. But we have minutes, hours for that, right? We have actual time measures to talk about time.

We say an hour later instead of a moment later because we can be objective and so be understood by people more easily. A “moment” can’t be used to measure time, as not only its meaning varies among people, but through time. Time is relative, and so how much a moment last, too. This moment, of me writing this, can last an hour and so, as any other moment of me eating can last 10 minutes.

So, a moment can’t measure time, so we must forget about quantification. But what about qualification? They can’t measure time, but they can conform time. Moments being relative to a person, they can conform that person’s perception of time. A moment starts when another ends. For anybody. Even when you sleep, that’s a moment.

What I’ve thought about moments is how some moments are used and some are not. Some moments, that I call active moments, are used, meaning we do something. Some others are not used; I call those passive moments. Active moments “contribute” in some direct way with your life, as to being able to say “I climbed the Everest” or “I worked at Burger King”, anything is valid. Passive moments, on the other hand, do not directly contribute to your life. Passive moments have to do with doing nothing, or doing things like waiting, resting, even sleeping when you don’t dream. You are technically doing something, but in practice that isn’t changing anything.

In matter of organizing time, being able to separate active and passive moments can give you a really useful tool. It’s not really a matter of how much time is spent in this or that tasks, if you don’t realize the essence of time units. That essence is moments. Moments are the essence of time, as, restating previous points, time is made of a series of moments.

Photo by Peter Tandlund.

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