A Travellerspoint blog

time

(CNN) -- Did you set your clocks back this morning?
If you forgot, you may want to go ahead and do it now.
Don't feel like you're being rude; we'll wait right here for you.
There. You have now given yourself the illusion -- as all of us do, every spring and autumn as we adjust our clocks and watches -- that you are in control of the concept of time.
But that's a battle that we all seem to have lost a while ago. Every technological advance fools us into thinking that we have conquered time, that we have made it our servant. Yet there is this nagging feeling that it is we who have somehow become enslaved.
We suspect that our time is not, in fact, our own -- that it is some alien creature that has overcome us and altered us. We are constantly, as if against our wills, in a rush to be in a bigger rush. So why, then, does each day's invisible finish line seem farther and farther away?
The other morning, I was in an airport when I saw an artifact from a dying era, something as evocative, in its own way, as the crumbling edifices of ancient Rome. The artifact in the airport had been disabled, ready to be hauled off to the scrap heap.
Its name was printed upon it: "AT&T Public Phone 2000."
You may be familiar with the contraption. In the early 1990s, when 2000 still seemed distant and exotic, AT&T started installing the things in airports across the U.S. The AT&T Public Phone 2000 was far more advanced than a traditional pay telephone. It featured a glass screen, which blinked madly at passing men and women, inviting them to come hither. It featured a keyboard. It had a wide bench seat.
"We are constantly, as if against our wills, in a rush to be in a bigger rush."
--Bob Greene
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Technology
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Cellular Phones
The idea was that the business traveler with an extra few minutes before his or her flight could sit down, insert a credit card, and -- here was the magical part -- send a written message to friends and associates in other parts of the country.
They were big and bulky and undoubtedly expensive to produce, and soon enough they became all but useless because people now carry tiny personal versions of those machines in their pockets. Which is why the wiring had been cut on the AT&T Public Phone 2000 that I saw the other day, and why it sat there in the terminal, unavailable for use.
Our ability to reach each other in a millisecond, and to reach the world at large, has progressed so rapidly that we didn't seem to fully notice as it happened.
One day we were walking down city streets making eye contact with each other, taking in the local scenery, and the next we were staring at the screens of our hypnotic phones, receiving real-time messages and breaking-news updates from people hundreds of miles away. It was a tradeoff we didn't exactly ask for. Yes, the concept of distance was all but erased -- but so, in a way, was the concept of place. We were sold the notion that we could be anywhere, with the tap of a key. What we only gradually began to recognize was that, by being everywhere, sometimes it felt like we were nowhere.
Any delay began to feel unacceptable. Most of us grew up accustomed to having to wait for letters in the U.S. mail; when e-mail made that largely unnecessary, we told ourselves that the new speed of electronic correspondence was satisfying and ideal. But then came instant messages, which were. . .well, instant. This was all supposed to save us time.
Yet do you feel as if time is something you have mastered? Do you believe that you have many more free hours to yourself now? Have the ever-sleeker-and-smaller machines and the ever-more-potent software cleared your schedule, made you a man or woman of leisure?
Or do you sometimes worry that you are working for your handheld communication device, instead of the other way around?
"What's new?" has ceased to be a casual pleasantry, and has become an urgent demand. Indeed, the word "new" itself has lost its punch; in marketing campaigns, the adjective "new" has increasingly been tossed aside and replaced by the adjective "next." "New" now seems somehow old.
At family gatherings and get-togethers of friends, something is happening that would have seemed outlandish even a few years ago. People at the parties are posting photos and videos of the events on social networking sites even as the parties are still going on.
Thus, friends and acquaintances around the country and around the world are looking at the party pictures and videos and evaluating them before the party is even over. And people who are at the parties themselves, checking in on the same social network sites, are looking at the publicly posted pictures of the party they are still attending. It's like a bizarre form of proactive nostalgia for something that hasn't finished taking place yet.
Some day soon, even this will seem quaint and outmoded; some day soon, this current ability to be constantly in touch will feel creaky and broken-down, like the AT&T Public Phone 2000 that was ready to be carted out of the airport. Right around the next corner -- someone is already working on it -- the next generation of technology is almost ready, with the promise of compressing time and space in ways that will make us dizzy.
And yet: Has all of this increased your ability to take a deep breath, to relax, to savor the time that is available to you? Did all of the rushing deliver you to someplace better?
Now. . .how did we get started on this?
Oh. Of course.
Did you set your clocks back this morning?
You don't want to let time get away from you.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.

Posted by codywant 01:24 Archived in England

great thoughts

Antonio Machado - Siesta

While the fish of fire traces its curve,
near the cypress beneath the supreme blue,
and the blind child flies in the white stone,
and in the elm the ivory couplet
of the green cicada beats and returns,
let's honor the Lord
-- the black stamp of his good hand --
who has dictated the silence in the clamor.

To the god of the distance and the absence,
of the anchor in the sea, the open sea...
He frees us from the world -- omnipresence --
opening for us a path to walk on.

With the hidden cup well-filled,
with this ever-filling heart,
let's honor the Lord who has made the Void
and has sculpted in faith our reason.

Posted by codywant 17:02 Tagged educational

great thoughts

Kabir

I burst into laughter
whenever I hear
that the fish is thirsty in water.

Without the knowledge of Self
people just wander to Mathura or to Kashi
like the musk-deer unaware
of the scent in his navel,
goes on running forest to forest.

In water is the lotus plant
and the plant bears flowers
and on the flowers are the bees buzzing.
Likewise all yogis and mendicants
and all those who have renounced comforts,
are on here and hereafter and the nether world-
contemplating.

Friend, the Supreme Indestructible Being,
on whom thousands of sages meditate
and even Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh,
really resides within one's self.

Though He is near, He appears far away-
and that is what makes one disturbed;
says Kabir, listen, O wise one,
by Guru alone is the confusion curbed.

Posted by codywant 17:01 Tagged educational

great thoughts

Jack Kerouac

14
What name shall we give it which hath no name, the common eternal matter of the mind? If we were to call it essence, some might think it meant perfume, or gold, or honey. It is not even mind. It is not even discussible, groupable into words; it is not even endless, in fact it is not even mysterious or inscrutably inexplicable; it is what is; it is that; it is this. We could easily call the golden eternity "This." But "what's in a name?" asked Shakespeare. The golden eternity by another name would be as sweet. A Tathagata, a God, a Buddha by another name, an Allah, a Sri Krishna, a Coyote, a Brahma, a Mazda, a Messiah, an Amida, an Aremedeia, a Maitreya, a Palalakonuh, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 would be as sweet. The golden eternity is X, the golden eternity is A, the golden eternity is /\, the golden eternity is O, the golden eternity is [ ], the golden eternity is t-h-e-g-o-l-d-e-n-e-t-e-r- n-i-t-y. In the beginning was the word; before the beginning, in the beginningless infinite neverendingness, was the essence. Both the word "god" and the essence of the word, are emptiness. The form of emptiness which is emptiness having taken the form of form, is what you see and hear and feel right now, and what you taste and smell and think as you read this. Wait awhile, close your eyes, let your breathing stop three seconds or so, listen to the inside silence in the womb of the world, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, re-recognize the bliss you forgot, the emptiness and essence and ecstasy of ever having been and ever to be the golden eternity. This is the lesson you forgot.

Posted by codywant 17:00 Tagged educational

great thoughts

Omar Khayam [34] Then to this earthen Bowl did i adjourn

Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur'd -- "While you live
"Drink! -- for once dead you never shall return."

Posted by codywant 16:57 Tagged educational

great thoughts

Constantine P. Cavafy - 'Ithaca'

Ithaca
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber, and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca on your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what these Ithacas mean.

Posted by codywant 16:50 Tagged educational

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