What is time? Seems like a really silly question doesn’t it? But seriously, how would you describe time? Would you say it is the measurement of our days? It’s broken down into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries?
But is that real? Not really. We have had a number of calendars over the years, some based on lunar, some based on solar, until the 1500’s (Julian) we followed one, but now have a slightly different one (Gregarion). Even the fact that we have to add an extra year every 4 so things still line up shows just how made up it all is. Not to mention daylight savings time where we just change the time 2x a year for outdated reasons.
So we take this made up system that we base so much of our life around, then we think about how this isn’t the only way time’s value is strange. Look at how we break life down into chunks of time in a number of ways.
* Baby, toddler, child, preteen, teenager, adult-how do the first 18 years have so many categories but the remaining 50-80 years are just one chunk?
* Before school, during school-elementary, middle, high, post secondary, grad school, post grad school, what if you go back to school during adult years. This could be a day class, a diploma, a full degree.
* Young and taken care of, part time job, full time job, career, how many careers? Retirement.
* Childhood/youthful crushes, first dates and intense teen love, engagements, marriages, divorces, remarriages
When we see all these different ways that we break our lives into time passages and chunks we can then think about how those times are valued and how we are valued within them. Have you ever thought about your value at different times of your life?
Society tells us that youth is valuable, important, the best we will be in our lives. The youth could be teen or in our 20’s, it is when our skin is supple, our bodies tight and not yet affected by gravity, we are eager for success and love, and not yet bittered by hurt. We are told all these things make us highly valued and that we slowly lose value over the rest of our lives. By the time we are at “retirement” age 60/65, we are seen as low value, a drain on the system, etc.
What are other ways that we are valued at different parts of our life?
* Earnings/money in the bank/material items
Capitalism has a huge effect on how we are seen as being valuable. Are we able to be workers in the system? Are we able to earn our own keep? Are we able to work hard enough to make the rich at the top get richer? Once we lose that ability to be productive we are seen as lower value to the system.
Child bearing people are seen as having a value that is different than those are no longer able to carry children due to age. If you are of age and ability to carry a child and further the population, you are of one value, if you are incapable of carrying or past child bearing years you are of a different value. People who have sperm have a different story since they can procreate for many more years, even past capacity to properly care for a child. This simple act of being able to produce and deposit sperm in a person gives them an intrinsic value that child bearers aren’t given.
In similar way are the value of those who are sexually attractive/active instead of those who are not. A person has an anticipated value as they come into their sexuality and sexual appeal, that value carries through similarly to their ability to give birth. Once they hit a certain age, or a certain visual appeal their value changes. Value based on shape/size/skin colour/ability etc are all valid, but not as relevant to the discussion of time.
Value based on earnings is usually contrary to that of fertility/sexual attractiveness. In our society, we generally start earning as a teen, then move into various jobs or careers, where we are told we will continue to earn until we retire. It often starts with a fast food, part time, low income job where it’s cool to see income, however it isn’t necessarily anything major or life changing. It’s for experience and learning the process of responding to the boss and working with others. *Yes I am aware there are many types of job experiences, these are the generic groupings for North America expected rolls* The idea is that our earnings grow with our experience in the job, our wealth/material items amassing along with the value the world holds to us. The higher the wealth a human has the more the world views them as important, valuable, desired.
Education is another way that the world puts value on us. Do you have a middle school education? GED? Highschool diploma? A college diploma? A university degree? A masters? A PHD? Every level of education brings on higher levels of value from the world. This doesn’t mean better jobs, better earnings, more productivity, being a better human, giving more to the world etc. Is it because this person was dedicated? Because they are smarter than the rest of us? Because they carry knowledge with them, regardless of what they do with it?
Health is something that isn’t guaranteed to follow a certain curve of healthy vs unhealthy, but for the conversation around timelines it is something that has certain expectations. Late teens through twenties are young, energetic, productive, body is healthy and good. As we move into middle ages the idea is that we slowly gain weight, become less active, less energetic. As we move into retirement age and our “later” years it is expected that we start to have health problems as we basically dissolve into death. Hips break, heart attacks and strokes happen, various cancers sneak in and our bodies slowly give up.
So while the world, our society, etc deem us to have a certain value at certain times in the line, how do you value or have valued yourself at different times in your life? This will significantly change between an eighteen year old and an eighty year old. The longer you have been around, the more “parts” of life there have been, the more you have to choose from, yet at the same time the more faded the memories of those times become.
I hope you can find value in yourself and your place in this world, regardless of what others say you should feel it.