Time, for us, is something which always has and belong to them, that is, other people. They way in which they, and therefore you, experience time is unique among living things. If you own a cat or dog you probably have observed that their time seems unstructured. Likewise, your pets probably think that your life is strictly controlled by unseen forces; it must confuse them to see us do the same mysterious things every day such as leaving the house, eating breakfast, waking to alarm clocks or watching TV. We live time in a way which our animal friends could never grasp. What we fail to realize is that we can no longer live time the way they do.
To clarify the concept of their time, here, is a quote from the book “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman:
“…there are those who think their bodies do not exist. They live by mechanical time…They work forty hours per week, read the Sunday paper on Sunday, play chess on Tuesday nights. When their stomach growls they look at their watches to see if it is time to eat.”
That is what I have in mind when I say their time. They live time as something numerical because that is the only way individuals in a civilization can co-ordinate themselves. As individuals we live time mathematically because, if we wish to be civilized beings, we must live time as they do. If we tried to live time as our pets do we would become entirely different types of beings.
You might think that the time in which you live is not determined by them or that, if it is, you could easily escape their time. If you think that your time is not structured by them, consider the names they assign to the days of the week and months, or maybe they way in which they break time into numerical units such as years or hours. We tend to separate our lives by birthdays and the ending of work, school and calender years.
Their time is one aspect of the civilized world which we all share. Without this world we would be primarily concerned only with our survival and we would not have the luxury of developing complex ideas which arise through discourse with others. This is why their time, along with other aspects of civilization, is what makes the existence of our type of being possible.
Without their time you would have the same sense of being as your dog or cat. You can rebel against the time they have constructed for you, but you will be rebelling against the workings of civilization which allow you to read this article, go to school or turn on your TV at 8:30 and laugh at your primate cousins “wasting” their time throwing feces at each other from the treetops.