When you pause to think about it, time is obviously a measure of change and not a cause of change. Holding my infant son and pacing the bedroom to keep him from screaming, I looked at my wife’s bedside clock and tried to guess when I could reasonably expect to get some shuteye. Maybe it was the cumulative sleep deprivation of the last few weeks but it seemed that the hands were turning around the clockface… and that was all. There was nothing additional going on, no invisible wind blowing between the past and future: only the room, the hectic floral wallpaper, the houseplant sitting in front of the lamp I bought my wife for Christmas a few years ago and the clock hands moving. This was ‘now’ just as it had ever been.
You see the difficulties we have with time in the way we talk about it. When asked where the time goes we can never say. It’s deeply mysterious to us. Perhaps it was never here to begin with. When I talk about a date in the past or future, I’m referring to a configuration of objects and states distant from us by a certain amount of change… most obviously the number of times the Earth has spun on its axis and how far it has rotated around the sun. Maybe all this is trivial but we seem to think of time as though it’s a thing in itself: a location, somewhere we travel to or from. Maybe it is… maybe I should get to bed an hour early tonight.