Saturday, July 09, 2011

Time

Time is likely the single most important idea in geology. The very basis of geology involves a survey of planet earth, and geologists think about time in much different ways than other professions. Time is important to us and makes us joyful when we witness its passage.

This idea became quite clear to me last year when I celebrated my 20,000 day of life. I invited a few friends over for a celebration but a few of them became perplexed when they learned the reason for the celebration. Most people I've met will encourage anyone to celebrate the years they've been alive, but I've discovered that if you attempt to measure your life in other units of time it perplexes people. I guess it's okay to measure years but counting the days, weeks, minutes or seconds you've been alive seems to perplex some people. Last year, you would have thought I was celebrating the death of a cherished pet the way some people reacted to my 20,000 day.

Nonetheless, I will be commemorating three important milestones on July 14. On that day I will turn 500,000 hours old. A little later in the day, I will turn 30 million minutes old and 1.8 billion seconds! I'm just so happy to have spent many of those hours, minutes, and seconds alive in the wild outdoors, the only true reality show that is actually based in reality. By the way, if you must know, those units of measure mean I've been alive just a little over 57 years.

If you are asking yourself how I will celebrate, it won't be with others who don't appreciate a good milestone. I'll probably take a walk through a northern Arizona forest in what is unequivocally the best time of year here. There may be a short but intense rain storm but the sun will never be far away. The clouds will be huge and billowy. The smells will be of green pine trees and fresh air. The temperature will be about 82 degrees and the humidity about 30%. It will be ideal. And I'll note the passing of time. I may not be aware of the exact second it happens or the exact hour but the whole week for me will be filled with reflections on time.

The most amazing thing to me about these milestones is the realization that I've only been here on earth a mere half a million hours. That seems so short a time, especially since I've been sleeping for at least 170,000 of those 500,000 hours! So few hours, yet so much that has been done.

Why note the 1.8 billionth second you ask? Well, that's the age (in years) of the oldest rocks in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I will have been alive for as many seconds as the Vishnu Schist has been around in years! I will then be about 1/31,500,000 as old as the Vishnu Schist. That's a milestone worth noting.

If you'd like to chart your own time, use the Paul Sadowski web site that I use. You can mark your own disambiguous moments in life and watch as other people become perplexed at your hyper-awareness of time.

Have a great time, whatever you do next week!

3 comments:

Gaelyn said...

The Vishnu is the first thing that came to my mind. Enjoy the forest.

jg said...

And I'm convinced that time is an illusion. Maybe the illusion is just the way we usually think about it.

Russell O said...

Totally cool Wayne...hope you had a great walk...