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The Meaning of Time

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发表于 2017-9-11 20:19:03 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 mcmay 于 2017-9-11 20:31 编辑

        In this article, I'm not talking about the definition of time. That's the job of philosophers and physicists. I'm talking about the meaning of time to a person. Of course, in the minds of different people, time may have quite distinctive shades of meaning. However, there can be something in common in the meaning of time to all people.
         In the world we live in, time is limited for anyone. If a person goes to the end of his or her life, well, that is as good as the end of his or her time in the world. If there was no limit to one's time, time would lose its meaning. That equals there being no time. Nevertheless, it is the limits put on everyone's time that make their life less boring. As far as we know, however long anything or anyone lives, there will always be such a moment when that thing or that person perishes. In that sense, time holds meaning to everyone in the world. That is probably why there is always a deadline before which something must be done. We have a relatively short life and therefore can't afford to indefinitely postpone the completion of something important. When we set the deadline for too many things, we'll feel hard pressed against time.
        Another common trait of time is its irreversibility. That is, even though you can turn the clock back, you cannot let time go back. In both Chinese and English, we have idioms that reflect this interesting attribute of time. In Chinese, we often exhort, "Think before you move", because in many situations what is done is done and cannot be undone by turning time backwards. In English, similarly, we ask people not to cry over spilt milk. This idiom means that we should not regret what we have done wrong. We'd better think carefully before taking actions. There is also a Chinese idiom that warns against the squander of time. Does anybody remember that famous one? It goes like "one minute of time is more precious than one nugget of gold". Yeah, you can save gold but you cannot save time. You can keep the saved money for a certain span of time whereas the time you "save", you cannot keep. You only save it for doing either something else or nothing at all. Whether you use it or not, it goes and never returns.
        Objectively, time has no meaning in itself. It is an entity that makes ceaseless unidirectional movement in the known parts of the universe. That's how it changes in the world we live. With the abovementioned two attributes, however, time becomes meaningful to everyone. Everyone has a limited amount of time in their life. The feeling that there is inexhaustible time is but an illusion. Moreover, time does not pass slowly or quickly for anyone. It just passes. If time has meaning, the meaning depends on personal needs and deeds. That's the meaning a person gives to his or her own time.
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