Friday, September 9, 2011


In a recent edition of the New York Times, Edward Rothstein wrote a review of the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania that contained some (if you will excuse the phrase) eternal questions.

“What exists everywhere in the universe but occupies no space?”

“What can be measured – but not seen, heard, smelled, tasted, nor held in our hands?”

“What can be spent, saved, frittered away or killed – but never destroyed?”

Time of course.

“Where does time go after it passes?

“What are we really measuring when we tell time?”

“In what ways does measuring time end up shaping time? How does shaping time affect how we think and act?”

Rothstein proposes, “The measuring of time may be the defining act of civilization. It makes planning and strategy possible. … It increases awareness of both constancy and change.”

Humans may have first “become aware of time through repetition. Something happens again and again, yet at each recurrence something else has changed: Time has passed. Sunrises, shadows, solstices: the regularities of such phenomena give pattern to experience.”

Rothstein goes on to describe some of the 12,000 timepieces in the museum.

What he fails to consider is the Buddhist belief that time (like separation) is an illusion.

Things to ponder – when you have a moment.

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