When I was younger I used to stay at over night in Ashland Massachusetts before hospital visits. It was closer to my Boston hospital and a good excuse to hang with my dad, step-mom and half-brother. One particular morning (there musn't have been surgery or scopes on the books), I was breakfasting with my half-brother and he asked "What is time?"
He was a little guy. He liked my shaved head and I sprayed his mom's hairspray under the bed (monster spray) when I would sit for him. I gave him a big stupid smile and his mother gasped.
"Oh my goodness! He wants to know what time is?"
It could have been my age, my recent babysitting or my perspective (I was watching his face as it swung toward the clock when he asked), but I was untroubled by the question.
"Well, time is what tells us what it's time to do. Time tells us when we go to playgroup, when we go to bed and when the train comes."
He was quickly and easily pacified and I felt like a good big sister.
Yesterday, Ivo and I were walking in the cemetery and stopped to admire one of the buildings. A woman who was passing commented on the fineness of the day and we agreed.
"If only the people with computers weren't messing with the time." , she added.
"Mmmmmm." we said.
Then we wished her a lovely day.
"What day is it?" she asked
"Sunday." we said.
"I'm sorry but it's not. I've just been to the shops and the shops aren't open on Sundays. So it isn't Sunday then, is it?"
I was at a loss. How does one prove time to someone? Especially someone who believes that people with computers are manipulating time? "Oh," I said "I just heard a lot of bells this morning. That made me think that it was Sunday. "
"Well, I've been to the shops. ....and you know the weird thing? I arrived home at the same time that I left. I left and went shopping and came home and it was the same time that it'd been when I'd gone."
"Go figure" is pretty much what Ivo and I were about to say. "Well, whichever day it is, I hope that it is a good one for you."
When I was preparing dinner, I began listening to the Radio lab podcast about Time. It was a freaky coincidence. I learned about how trains made a synchronised time in one place more necessary. I learned about England taking control of their empire and declaring their own time, Greenwich Mean Time, as the one true time. It was enlightening. When I'd left that woman I shuffled my feet and thought "It's all relative" but after hearing that podcast I thought on my baby brother and was reminded the importance of respecting people and listening better to the things that they say and the ways in which they intend it.