Do We Really Need Time?

Eszter Aletta Hevesi

Over the past couple of weeks I started to read ‘A véletlen könyv avagy a véletlennek megélt valóság’ by Attila Pergel. I expected this book to answer one of my biggest questions in life: Is time something we really need, or does it just make everything easier? Unfortunately, the book made it complicated by involving advanced physics, but it also made me even more curious.

If we have already built so much of our lives on time, why isn’t it a natural concept? Back in time, some inventors came to the conclusion over time that right now it is midnight and we need to go by hours from now on. 1 year is equal to 365 days, 1 day is equal to 24 hours, 1 hour is equal to 60 minutes, while 1 minute is equal to 60 seconds. Of course, they measured this in terms of the Earth’s motion around the Sun and considered some other natural factors too, but why didn’s such measurement originate with the Earth? Why do we need time so much that I need to know even the seconds? Who told us that we needed to use numbers to tell what time it is? If we want to, we can leave this system, use the Sun as a clock, and adapt to it without any numbers involved; animals do that too, and they can survive. We won’t surrender to the ancient scientists’ ideas of time and we can live the way the Universe/God wanted us to, without artificial time.

But would we feel better? I wouldn’t know when I should go to school. When would my bus come? When would the teacher let us out of the lesson? Could I use terms like hours, minutes, seconds? Would I get a ticket if I drove a car faster than I am allowed? Would speed even be a factor in our lives? If we don’t have time, we can’t have speed either. Neither in connection with cars, with swimmers, runners, or with any kind of sport. A solar eclipse would ruin our whole routine, because we couldn’t use the sunclock in that case. We couldn’t celebrate birthdays because we wouldn’t know what day it was. We couldn’t make plans; all of those situations would be like: “We should grab coffee together, what do you think?” “Yeah, sure, when and where?” “Hmm, maybe when the sun goes down we can meet at the park and approach the cafe together.” “But the sun goes down earlier in my town, I would be there way earlier than you.” “Oh, I completely forgot. Then maybe we should come here hours before the sun goes down and if it is meant to be, we will meet and grab a coffee.” That is a terrible idea; I won’t wait for you all afternoon.” So the meetups wouldn’t even happen. Christmas, Easter and all the other holidays would disappear too.

Considering these factors, do I need to think about the question of time, or should I just enjoy the privileges of having time and thank the ancient scientists for their work? I don’t know. Will I ever get an answer to my question? Probably not. The thing I enjoy is how my mind tries to solve the question of time and how its opinion on the matter changes nearly every day.