On my first visit to New York city I overheard the following exchange between a mother and daughter in Times Square.
Mother: I’ll meet you back here in 15 minutes.
Mother: That’s my 15 minutes not your 15 minutes.
Mother: Because your 15 minutes is never 15 minutes.
Mother: My 15 minutes is actually 15 minutes and when I say I’ll will be back here in 15 minutes that means I want to meet you here in 15 minutes, not in 20 minutes or half an hour or 16 minutes. It means 15 minutes.
Einstein was correct and particularly in this case when he said time was relative.
I have an ongoing battle with my own daughter over the perception of time. It turns out we all have our own perception of time. Even though we may agree on some basics e.g. there are 24 hours in a day, we can’t agree on what the passing of time feels like. As I observe my daughter’s morning routine it’s clear to me that her sense of being on time is completely different to mine. I’ve struggled for a number of years to help her change, to guide her to conform to the contemporary concept of punctuality, but to no avail. Now I find it's me that is required to change. There are reasons her lateness distresses me. The main one being that getting her to school is part of my routine and responsibility. When she is late, then I am late. Like dominoes all set to fall, her being late sets off a chain reaction that pushes on through my day. For her it stops the moment I stop complaining.
Rather than beating my head against this repeatedly I've decided to take a step back. I no longer want to deal with her in the morning. She’s old enough to take responsibility and I don’t need to helicopter around continually pointing to the clock with ever increasing alarm as the time for departure comes and is inevitably passed. So I no longer take her to school. Occasionally I make amusing remarks about how quickly time is passing as I get myself and my son ready but we leave before her. She gets a lift with my mother, walks or catches the bus.
There are people in the world that operate on their own time. For me I feel being on time is important, probably something I learned as a child from my grandfather that has stuck with me. I don’t like having my time wasted, that’s fair enough. But it’s also sometimes better to remove yourself from a situation when the only other solution is changing another human being against their nature. Who am I to say my concept of being on time is more correct than my daughter’s lack of interest in the very concept?
Time is relative in many more ways than we think.